Use of dried kapenta (Limnothrissa miodon and Stolothrissa tanganicae) and other products based on whole fish for complementing maize-based diets
Poor nutritional status both for children and adults is highly prevalent in those parts of sub-Saharan Africa where maize is a dominant staple. Maize is not a complete food, and if the child’s diet is only based on white maize, it may be deficient in calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, niacin, potassium and iron. Inadequate intake of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and trace elements is associated with reduced growth, weakening of immunological functions and enhanced morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases, including measles, diarrhoeal diseases, parasite infestations, tuberculosis and HIV disease. Pregnant women and people suffering from infectious diseases, including HIV and tuberculosis, need a diet rich in protein and micronutrients. During pregnancy, growth requirements for the foetus must be covered. Infections lead to significant metabolic changes with enhanced rates of degradation or excretion of several nutrients including total protein, essential amino acids and vitamins. The diet must now contain higher amounts of nutrients than required by a healthy child or adult person in order to prevent the development of protein malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies that will in turn easily lead to weakening of immunological functions. The purpose of the study was i) to analyse the nutrient composition of kapenta, and compare it to other animal products, and ii) to calculate the quantity of these products needed to cover the recommended dietary intake of several nutrients. Nutrient compositions of whole dried kapenta and Norwegian fish powder (fish protein concentrate type B) were found to be similar. It is shown that products made from whole fish are qualitatively superior to fish fillet and other animal products because they are much better sources of minerals and trace elements such as calcium, iron and zinc. They are also good sources of vitamin B12 and other bioactive substances such as membrane lipids, taurine and nucleic acids. Calculations of the improvements in nutrient intake if a maize-based diet is supplemented with minor amounts of a micronutrient- and protein-rich food like dried kapenta, or fish meal, was shown to give a balanced diet covering most of the nutrient requirements. It should be noted that patients suffering from chronic infectious diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis have higher nutrient requirements (for protein, essential amino acids and several micronutrients) compared to healthy persons.
Key words: Nutrition, children, maize, kapenta, fish-meal