In Morocco, vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a public health problem. Nutrition education is an effective long term strategy to eliminate VAD. One of constraints to develop and implement this strategy is the lack of information on foods (especially fruits and vegetables) produced and consumed locally. the aim of our study is to quantify the pro-vitamin A in fruits and vegetables cultivated and consumed in Morocco.
The study was performed on most consumed fruits and vegetables in Morocco (18 vegetables, 21 fresh and dried fruits and 3 condiments and cereals). Six carotenoids were quantified including: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein-zeaxanthin and lycopene. The extraction of the carotenoids was achieved by a liquid/liquid extraction and analyzed by HPLC-DA.
In Morocco, the average consumption of fruit and vegetables is low (carrots: 5.6kg/head/year, red pepper: 4.2kg/head/year, tomato: 25.9kg/head/year, oranges: 26.8kg/head/year). the richest food in beta-carotene is carrots (8763µg/100g), parsley (5124µg/100g), red pepper (1742µg/100g), red cabbage (680µg/100g) and black grapes (676µg/100g). However, red potatoes are rich in beta-crypthoxanthine (590µg/100g), parsley, corn and zucchini are the richest in lutein-zeaxanthin. Tomato and watermelon contain the higher among of lycopene. The daily consumption of 100g of carrot (equivalent to 2carrots) largely covers the daily requirement of this carotenoid (2000µg/d) and 100% of the daily requirement of vitamin A. In addition, the consumption of 100g of red pepper, corn, zucchini or red cabbage cover at least 25% of daily retinol needs of children.
Moroccan citizen doesn’t consume enough fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits of Morocco are an important source of vitamin A. Encouraging of more consumption of vegetables and fruits produced locally could be of a great importance to improve vitamin A status and controlling VAD in Morocco.