To estimate the contribution of MO and MS to human dietary mineral intake and To explore the variation in nutrient composition due to soil properties and species
Moringa growing households from two districts in southern Ethiopia (n=24) and five counties in Kenya (n=56) were surveyed to assess the ways that Moringa plant parts are used. Paired plant and soil samples were collected for elemental analysis by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).
All surveyed households from Ethiopia and 79% of households in Kenya used Moringa leaves as a food source, primarily the leaves either as vegetable or powder. The elemental composition (mg/100 g dw) of MO leaves included Ca(1832±62), I(0.4±0.2), Fe(20±1.2), Se(0.4±0.03) and Zn(3.5±0.09); for MS the composition was Ca(2051±67), I(0.02±0.003), Fe(16±1.3), Se(0.15±0.01), and Zn(2.3±0.07). Thus the percentage of recommended nutrient intake (%RNI), for an adult male aged 19-65 y, supplied by 100 g of dry MO leaf powder would be 200%(Ca and I), 100%(Fe), 1200%(Se) and 50%(Zn). However, further study is required to determine the bioavailability of these mineral nutrients from MO leaf powder and the risk of exceeding upper tolerable limits for some nutrients.
Given the ability of Moringa spp. to grow rapidly under marginal environmental conditions, where rural families have limited access to animal-source foods, these under-utilized tree species could help to tackle human micronutrient deficiencies in sub-Saharan Africa. Further integrated agro-silvicultral research and development, education, and health studies are required.