South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Skimmed milk as a determinant of vitamin A deficiency

Colin Musara, Mudavanhu Nyagura


Objective: To compare the levels of vitamin A in ultra-high temperature treated (UHT) whole milk (3.5% fat) and UHT skimmed milk (0.5% fat) using UV-visible light spectrophotometry and to compare the contribution of whole milk and skimmed milk to the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A.

Design: Paired samples of liquid whole milk and liquid skimmed milk were used. Sampling and analysis were performed by different individuals to achieve a randomised blind design.

Outcome measures: Thirty paired samples (n = 30) of whole milk and skimmed milk were evaluated for vitamin A content using UV-visible light spectrophotometry at 328 nm.

Results: Absolute concentration of vitamin A was reduced from 208.830 ± 0.083 μg/L in whole milk to 35.855 ± 0.046 μg/L in skimmed milk. The 85.7% reduction in butterfat content from 3.5% in whole milk to 0.5% in skimmed milk was accompanied by an 82.824 ± 3.51% (mean ± SD) reduction in retinol content.

Conclusion: The contribution of milk to the RDA for vitamin A was reduced from the standard 7.6% for whole milk to 1.30% for skimmed milk with 0.5% fat. The results emphasise the need for fortification of skimmed milk with vitamin A in order to augment the prevention of vitamin A deficiency diseases in developing countries.

Keywords: recommended dietary allowance, skimmed milk, vitamin A, whole milk
AJOL African Journals Online