Effects of Red Palm Oil Supplementation on β-Carotene and Vitamin A Levels in Patients With Cystic Fibrosis

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Benefits of Red Palm Oil Supplementation in Patients With Cystic Fibrosis

Beta-carotene is a major source of retinol (vitamin A) and may act as an antioxidant and scavenge singlet oxygen molecules in the human body. Although β-carotene is of significant importance in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), low concentrations of plasma carotenoids have been reported in these patients. A study published in the journal Mediators of Inflammation explored the effect of daily supplementation of red palm oil (RPO) on plasma β-carotene concentrations in patients with CF. The study also investigated the effect of increased β-carotene concentrations by RPO supplementation on the modulation of levels of retinol, α-tocopherol and other carotenoids in the blood.

The study included 16 patients with CF who were instructed to supplement their food with 2–3 tablespoons of RPO for eight weeks. They were advised to use about two-third of the oil without heating (e.g., in salads) and one-third or less oil for cooking or frying. Blood samples were obtained from participants for measuring vitamins, carotenoids and clinical parameters at baseline and end of the intervention. Buccal mucosa cells (BMC) were obtained at the same time points as blood samples to evaluate the levels of antioxidants such as β-carotene, lycopene, α-tocopherol and vitamin C.

Enriching food with RPO for eight weeks increased plasma β-carotene concentrations in most CF patients (n=10). Supplementation with RPO also increased α-carotene and retinol levels in these patients. Furthermore, low concentrations of β-carotene, lycopene, α-tocopherol and vitamin C were detected in BMC.

This study concluded that enriching food daily with 2–3 tablespoons of RPO for eight weeks increased plasma concentrations of β-carotene, α-carotene and retinol in CF patients. Since, there were no reports of negative side effects of daily RPO supplementation; this oil could be used to increase plasma β-carotene levels in CF patients. However, further trials are crucial for using this approach for correcting retinol deficiency in patients with CF on a daily basis.

News source: Sommerburg O, De Spirt S, Mattern A, et al. Supplementation with red palm oil increases β-carotene and vitamin A blood levels in patients with cystic fibrosis. Mediators Inflamm. 2015;2015:817127.