Contribution of fruits and vegetables to dietary intakes of vitamins A and C, and iron in children 3-5 years old, district, Kenya
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A cross-sectional and descriptive study was carried out in Bomet district, from December, 1996 to the beginning of March, 1997, a period during which availability of fruits and vegetables in the district were considered moderate, to determine the contribution of fruits and vegetables to the daily dietary intakes of vitamins A and C, and the mineral iron, in children aged 3-5 years old. The study comprised 388 children consisting of 196 males and 192 females. Dietary intakes were measured using a 24-hour recall and repeated after 2 months. Data on demography, household characteristics and food consumption were collected by use of a structured questionnaire. Focus group discussions with mothers of the target children, and in-depth interviews, and the researcher's observations were used to obtain information on the state of fruit and vegetable consumption in the study area, perception of the people in the area towards production and consumption of the fruits and vegetables, and the common methods of vegetable preparation for consumption. The study established that rural households and by extension the study children, were found to habitually consume vegetables, and to a less extent fruits. Most of the leafy vegetables were cooked by boiling in excess water, and for considerably long periods of time. The cooking water in most cases was discarded. The study established that the recommended dietary intake for vitamin A, vitamin C and iron were fully satisfied in 62, 92 and I 77% of the study children respectively. The study children consumed 5 grams of banana, 2 grams each of orange and passion fruit, and 1 gram each of avaocado, mango and papaya per day. The children on average consumed 25 grams of kale, 22 grams of cabbage, 12 grams of amranthus spp., 10 grams of tomato, 8 grams of pumpkin fruit, 5 grams of spider flower, and 2 grams each of carrot and onion per day. The consumption of these fruits and vegetables contributed approximately 207 ~g RE of vitamin A, 52 mg of vitamin C and 2 mg of dietary iron, which represented about 59, 88 and 20% of the total children's daily dietary supplies of the nutrients respectively. For the children, the daily dietary intakes of vitamins A and C, and iron from consumption of the fruits and vegetables represented 69, 260 and 27% of the recommended dietary intakes respectively. However, the percentage contribution of the fruits and vegetables to the recommended dietary intakes for vitamin C could be very much lower than the calculated intakes after taking into account the losses of the vitamin during cooking. It is concluded that the people in the study area were found to habitually consume vegetables as compared to fruits. Most of the study children met their daily requirements of vitamins A and C, and iron, significant amounts of which were derived from consumption of fruits and vegetables. Education of mothers on best methods of cooking of vegetables is recommended.