South Africa embarked on mandatory vitamin and mineral fortification of wheat flour and maize meal in
2003 as part of a multi-faceted approach to alleviate malnutrition. However, it was reported, in 2008, that
vitamin A deficiency increased despite the mandatory fortification programme. This motivates an investigation
into the absorption of vitamin A as fortificant in the maize meal.
Relative absorption, in chickens as the biological model, was determined by evaluating growth and
vitamin A status. The weight, cumulative feed intake and liver retinol stores of chickens on different diets
were measured over a 6 week period.
The fortified white maize meal diet was able to maintain the vitamin A status of the chickens.
Poor absorption of the fortificant vitamin A is therefore not a constraint in combating vitamin A deficiency.
It is in therefore also important to focus on the level of fortification delivered when consumed as a
traditional prepared dish. In the traditional diet, maize porridge is often consumed with only a relish. The
total fat content of the traditional meal is very low, lacking absorption enhancers.