Circulating levels of retinol, tocopherol and carotenoid in Nepali pregnant and postpartum women following long-term beta-carotene and vitamin A supplementation.Eur J Clin Nutr 2001; 55(4):252-9EJ
To characterize circulating carotenoid and tocopherol levels in Nepali women during pregnancy and post-partum and to determine the effects of beta-carotene and vitamin A supplementation on their concentration in serum.
Randomized community supplementation trial.
The study was carried out from 1994 to 1997 in the Southern, rural plains District of Sarlahi, Nepal.
A total of 1431 married women had an ascertained pregnancy, of whom 1186 (83%) provided an analyzable serum sample during pregnancy; 1098 (77%) provided an analyzable 3-4 months post-partum serum sample.
Women received a weekly dose of vitamin A (7000 microg RE), beta-carotene (42 mg) or placebo before, during and after pregnancy. Serum was analyzed for retinol, alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein + zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin concentrations during mid-pregnancy and at approximately 3 months post-partum.
Compared to placebo, serum retinol, beta-carotene, gamma-tocopherol, beta-cryptoxanthin and lutein + zeaxanthin concentrations were higher among beta-carotene recipients during pregnancy and, except for beta-cryptoxanthin, at postpartum. In the vitamin A group, serum retinol and beta-cryptoxanthin were higher during pregnancy, and retinol and gamma-tocopherol higher at postpartum. Lutein + zeaxanthin was the dominant carotenoid, regardless of treatment group, followed by serum beta-carotene. Serum lycopene level was lowest, and very low compared to the US population. Serum retinol was higher, and carotenoid and alpha-tocopherol lower, at postpartum than during pregnancy in all groups.
Pregnant and lactating Nepali women have lower serum carotenoid and tocopherol levels than well-nourished populations. beta-carotene supplementation appeared to increase levels of tocopherol and other carotenoids in this population.