Background & aims: Adequate dietary intake of antioxidants is vital for the promotion of health, well being and longevity of the elderly. This study assessed the prevalence of vitamin A (retinol) and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) deficiency in a population of low-income South African elderly. Methods: Serum vitamin A and vitamin E concentrations were determined in 235 persons aged 60-93 years in Sharpeville, South Africa. Dietary assessment was done using 24-h recall. Weight and height were measured to determine body mass index. Results: The mean and standard deviation of serum levels in the elderly were 1.41 ± 1.4μmol/L for vitamin A and 2.1±1.1. mg/l for vitamin E. The proportion with deficient serum vitamin A was 28.2% and 26.5% for men and women respectively and 20.5% and 20.9% respectively for deficient vitamin E concentrations. Almost one-third of the subjects consumed less than 100% of the Estimated Average Requirement for both vitamins. Mean vitamin A intake was 426 ± 666μg in men and 368 ± 811 μg in women, mean vitamin E intake for men and women was 5.4 ± 5.2μg and 4.0 ± 0.5. mg respectively. The predominant macronutrient consumed was carbohydrate. No relationship existed between biochemical and dietary intake parameters of vitamins A and E. Conclusions: These findings indicate poor dietary intake and high prevalence of vitamins A and E deficiency among this elderly population. Sustainable community-based interventions are needed to address this nutritional vulnerability in this community.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E