Nutrient composition and suitability of four commonly used local complementary foods in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria
Adequate nutrition is important during infancy and childhood where a short period of malnutrition has long lasting effects on growth, development and health in the adult life. The period from six months to two years constitutes a critical window of opportunity for promoting optimal growth, health and development, while insufficient quantity and quality of complementary foods (CFs), poor feeding practice and high rate of infection have a detrimental impact on growth in these important years. This study was designed to evaluate the nutrient composition and suitability of four commonly used complementary foods in two Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. A descriptive cross-sectional survey involving women with children aged 6-24 months old was carried out in two randomly selected LGAs to identify the commonly used CFs. A total of 300 consenting mothers (150/LGA) aged 18 to 60 years presenting their children for immunisation in the two LGAs were respondents. A pretested, semi-structured questionnaire was used to obtain information on sociodemographic characteristics, knowledge on breastfeeding, complementary feeding practice, and types of CFs used from the respondents. Standardised samples of the four most commonly used CFs were prepared and analysed for nutrient and anti-nutrient composition using standard AOAC methods of analyses. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and Chi square test, with level of significance set at p = 0.05. Two types of unripe banana porridge, one mashed bean porridge, and mixed cereal pap with crayfish and ‘turn brown’ (soybean flour, groundnut and crayfish) were the four most commonly used CFs. One hundred grams portion of the CFs contained between 2.52 - 6.70 g crude protein, 1.26 - 7.23 g crude lipid, 8.16 - 13.97 g carbohydrates and yielded up to 415.57 kcal of energy. The mineral content ranged between 31.58 - 230.40 mg potassium, 46.78 - 184.68 mg calcium, 55.23 - 120.93 mg phosphorus, 10.37 - 23.26 mg iron, 7.53 - 18.53 mg of zinc / 100g portion. The four complementary foods were nutritionally adequate and were low in anti-nutrients (oxalates, phytates, trypsin inhibitors, saponins and tannins), hence there is little risk of malabsorption of available nutrients. Utilization of unripe banana and mixed cereals with turn brown for infants provides cheap CFs with adequate energy and nutrients, and promotes biodiversity.
Key words: Nutrients, Complementary foods, Banana, Cereal, Beans.
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