Daily vitamin A intake recommendations revisited: global confusion and need for alignment

Abstract Number Theme Presentation Type Cover Approved
0498 Dietary assessment: methods and results Poster Not Approved


Abstract Content


The Institute of Medicine (IOM), WHO and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)have each issued a set of vitamin A recommendations with diverging values and provitamin A conversion factors, expressed either as retinol equivalents (RE) or retinol activity equivalents (RAE). We present here a case-study by comparing these recommendations for lactating women from rural Guatemala.


Dietary intake data were collected by 24h recall from 55 lactating women, and the proportion of provitamin A intake was calculated using the USDA food composition table. Vitamin A intake recommendations were subsequently compared among the three institutions.


The proportion of provitamin A intake in the diet of these lactating women from rural Guatemala was 45%. Assuming that 2/3 of provitamin A intake is in the form of all-trans ß- carotene and 1/3 as other provitamin A carotenoids, the recommended intake (in µg) of preformed retinol and pro-vitamin A carotenoids, respectively, would be 468 and 3060 by WHO (RE); 715 and 4680 by EFSA (RE); and 715 and 9360 µg by IOM (RAE).


Estimated compliance with vitamin A intake recommendations for lactating women varies greatly across these three international, authoritative institutions, especially when the proportion of provitamin A intake in the diet is large. This is due to a mismatch between the units of recommendation by WHO and EFSA (RE) and those of the IoM and USDA food composition table (RAE), frequently used adjacently to assess adequacy of vitamin A intake in developing countries. Harmonization of vitamin A intake recommendations with food composition values for international use is urgently required.

Our website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience.
Please visit our Privacy Policy page for more information.