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Orange-fleshed sweet potato-based infant food is a better source of dietary vitamin A than a maize– legume blend as complementary food

Background: White maize, which is widely used for complementary feeding and is seldom fortified at the household level, may be associated with the high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among infants in low-income countries.

Objective: The nutrient composition of complementary foods based on orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) and cream-fleshed sweet potato (CFSP), maize–soybean–groundnut (Weanimix), and a proprietary wheat-based infant cereal (Nestlé Cerelac) were assessed using the Codex Standard (CODEX STAN 074-1981, Rev. 1–2006) specification as a reference. Additionally, the costs of OFSP complementary food, CFSP complementary food, and Weanimix production at the household level were estimated. Phytate and polyphenols, which limit the bioavailability of micronutrients, were assessed.

Methods: Energy, macronutrients, and micronutrients listed as essential composition in the Codex Standard were determined and expressed as energy or nutrient density.

Results: All the formulations met the stipulated energy and nutrient densities as specified in the Codex Standard. The β-carotene content of OFSP complementary food exceeded the vitamin A specification (60 to 180 µg retinol activity equivalents/100 kcal). All the formulations except Weanimix contained measurable amounts of ascorbic acid (≥ 32.0 mg/100 g). The level of phytate in Weanimix was highest, about twice that of OFSP complementary food. The sweet potato-based foods contained about twice as much total polyphenols as the cereal-based products. The estimated production cost of OFSP complementary food was slightly higher (1.5 times) than that of Weanimix.

Conclusions: OFSP complementary food is a good source of β-carotene and would therefore contribute to the vitamin A requirements of infants. Both OFSP complementary food and Weanimix may inhibit iron absorption because of their high levels of polyphenols and phytate, respectively, compared with those of Nestlé Cerelac.


Amagloh, F.K. and Coad, J. 2014. Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potato-Based Infant Food is a Better Source of Dietary Vitamin A than a Maize—Legume Blend as Complementary Food. Food and nutrition bulletin, 35(1), pp.51-59.