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Improved vitamin test could help millions

A new technique that gives quicker and more accurate information about a person's levels of vitamin A could help improve the health of millions.

Scientists at Newcastle University and Pennsylvania State University have developed an improved method of conducting the Retinol Isotope Dilution (RID) technique, reducing testing time from the 21 days currently needed to just four.

The improved test also allows for the first time the vitamin A status of an individual person to be determined.  Previous RID tests were only able to evaluate the vitamin A status of groups due to large variations in vitamin A metabolism between individuals.

According to the World Health Organisation vitamin A deficiency is a public health issue in more than half of all countries in the world, especially in Africa and South East Asia. The vitamin is vital for the body and low levels can leave a person more susceptible to infection. It is estimated that vitamin A deficiency affects 190 million children under the age of five each year, and is the leading cause of childhood blindness in developing countries.   

Good sources of vitamin A include eggs, dairy produce and liver, while beta-carotene – which is turned into vitamin A by the body – is found in yellow fruit and vegetables such as carrots, peppers and mango. 

For the full article please visit the Newcastle University Website.

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