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β-Cryptoxanthin And Zeaxanthin Are Highly Bioavailable From Whole-grain And Refined Biofortified Orange Maize In Humans With Optimal Vitamin A Status: A Randomized, Crossover, Placebo-controlled Trial

Tyler J Titcomb, Jesse Sheftel, Margaret Sowa, Bryan M Gannon, Christopher R Davis, Natalia Palacios-Rojas, Sherry A Tanumihardjo

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Abstract Background Biofortification of staple crops with β-carotene is a strategy to reduce vitamin A deficiency, and several varieties are available in some African countries. β-Cryptoxanthin (BCX)-enhanced maize is currently in field trials. To our knowledge, maize BCX bioavailability has not been assessed in humans. Serum retinol 13C content and xanthophyll concentrations are proposed effectiveness biomarkers for biofortified maize adoption. Objective We determined the relative difference in BCX and zeaxanthin bioavailability from whole-grain and refined BCX-biofortified maize during chronic feeding compared with white maize and evaluated short-term changes in 13C-abundance in serum retinol. Design After a 7-d washout, 9 adults (mean ± SD age: 23.4 ± 2.3 y; 5 men) were provided with muffins made from BCX-enhanced whole-grain orange maize (WGOM), refined orange maize (ROM), or refined white maize (RWM) for 12 d in a randomized, blinded, crossover study followed by a 7-d washout. Blood was drawn on days 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and 19. Carotenoid areas under the curve (AUCs) were compared by using a fixed-effects model. 13C-Abundance in serum retinol was determined by using gas chromatography/combustion/isotope-ratio mass spectrometry on days 0, 12, and 19. Vitamin A status was determined by 13C-retinol isotope dilution postintervention. Results The serum BCX AUC was significantly higher for WGOM (1.70 ± 0.63 μmol ⋅ L−1 ⋅ d) and ROM (1.66 ± 1.08 μmol ⋅ L−1 ⋅ d) than for RWM (−0.06 ± 0.13 μmol ⋅ L−1 ⋅ d; P < 0.003). A greater increase occurred in serum BCX from WGOM muffins (131%) than from ROM muffins (108%) (P ≤ 0.003). Zeaxanthin AUCs were higher for WGOM (0.94 ± 0.33) and ROM (0.96 ± 0.47) than for RWM (0.05 ± 0.12 μmol ⋅ L−1 ⋅ d; P < 0.003). The intervention did not affect predose serum retinol 13C-abundance. Vitamin A status was within an optimal range (defined as 0.1–0.7 μmol/g liver). Conclusions BCX and zeaxanthin were highly bioavailable from BCX-biofortified maize. The adoption of BCX maize could positively affect consumers’ BCX and zeaxanthin intakes and associated health benefits. This trial is registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT02800408.