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The search for sustainable solutions: Producing a sweet potato based complementary food rich in vitamin A, zinc and iron for infants in developing countries

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Deficiencies of vitamin A, zinc and iron are prevalent among infants and young children in developing countries. This is often due to consumption of unfortified cereal-based foods. Two nutritionally balanced sweet potato-based complementary foods containing locally available products were developed to help combat micronutrient deficiencies. Composite flours from orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP), soybean and carrots were produced by drying, milling and blending in the ratio of 64.6:34.8:0.7 and 61.3:37.7:1.0, respectively. The formulations were evaluated for nutrient composition and compared with a commercially cereal-based product (Control) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission Guidelines for complementary foods for infants and young children. The newly formulated OFSP-based complementary foods (OFSP-CFs) had higher levels of protein and fat compared to the Control. However, the latter was higher in carbohydrates and energy. The OFSP-CFs met the stipulated values for energy (>= 400 kcal/100 g), protein (>= 15%) and fat (10 - 25%) as specified in the Codex standards. Vitamin A (2057 - 2064 mu g RAE/100 g) and zinc (8.82 - 10.38 mg/100 g) were significantly higher (p < 0.05) than levels in the Control (370 mu g RAE/100 g and 2.5 mg/100 g, respectively). OFSP-CF2 was highest in iron content (9.95 mg/100 g). The newly formulated complementary foods exceeded the minimum recommended standards (at least 50% of daily recommendation in an estimated ration of 50 g) for zinc (>100%) and iron (>70%). Furthermore, the blends contained more than 200% of the requirement for daily vitamin A intake as stipulated in the Codex unlike the Control which only met about 46%. OFSP-CFs could improve the vitamin A, zinc and iron intake of infants and young children better than the Control. They may also serve as a sustainable food-based strategy for reducing vitamin A, iron and zinc deficiency as well as protein-energy malnutrition among infants and young children in Nigeria and other developing countries. (C) 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of African Institute of Mathematical Sciences / Next Einstein Initiative.