evidence-based blog of Filippo Dibari

(Chinese trial:) β-Carotene in Golden Rice is as good as β-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children

In Under-nutrition on September 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

Guangwen TangYuming HuShi-an YinYin WangGerard E DallalMichael A Grusak, and Robert M Russell

Am J Clin Nutr September 2012 



Background: Golden Rice (GR) has been genetically engineered to be rich in β-carotene for use as a source of vitamin A.

Objective: The objective was to compare the vitamin A value of β-carotene in GR and in spinach with that of pure β-carotene in oil when consumed by children.

Design: Children (n = 68; age 6–8 y) were randomly assigned to consume GR or spinach (both grown in a nutrient solution containing 23 atom% 2H2O) or [2H8]β-carotene in an oil capsule. The GR and spinach β-carotene were enriched with deuterium (2H) with the highest abundance molecular mass (M) at Mβ-C+2H10. [13C10]Retinyl acetate in an oil capsule was administered as a reference dose. Serum samples collected from subjects were analyzed by using gas chromatography electron-capture negative chemical ionization mass spectrometry for the enrichments of labeled retinol: Mretinol+4 (from [2H8]β-carotene in oil), Mretinol+5 (from GR or spinach [2H10]β-carotene), and Mretinol+10 (from [13C10]retinyl acetate).

Results: Using the response to the dose of [13C10]retinyl acetate (0.5 mg) as a reference, our results (with the use of AUC of molar enrichment at days 1, 3, 7, 14, and 21 after the labeled doses) showed that the conversions of pure β-carotene (0.5 mg), GR β-carotene (0.6 mg), and spinach β-carotene (1.4 mg) to retinol were 2.0, 2.3, and 7.5 to 1 by weight, respectively.

Conclusions: The β-carotene in GR is as effective as pure β-carotene in oil and better than that in spinach at providing vitamin A to children. A bowl of ∼100 to 150 g cooked GR (50 g dry weight) can provide ∼60% of the Chinese Recommended Nutrient Intake of vitamin A for 6–8-y-old children. This trial was registered at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00680212.

Feel free to suggest web sites which debate the results from this study. Thanks. fil

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  1. Dear Ye, thanks for your comment.

    I have a friend who is closely following up this topic and has passed this super interesting paper on to me.

    If you wish to discuss it more in depth, you would find in him a more stimulating source of insights than mine, I am afraid. My area is more related to other topics. Therefore, let me know, and I can put you in contact (see my contact here http://wp.me/P2nPyw-w). Yet, I would thrilled to be kept in the loop.

    One more thing: if you have side-papers to suggest on this topic, please, feel free to add a comment here with links to them.

    Have a great weekend.



    PS: will you be in London at AAH conference this month? we could meet and have a coffee.


  2. Hi, Fil! I am a new affliate International student from China here at CIHD. As you might have already known, this trial has triggered tremendous attention and rage since it was revealed to the public in China by Greenpeace. I am curious about the take of the academia on this issue. I know GM is a controversial matter but what about the trial? Does it deserve this much condemnation?


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