HOUSTON, May 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. study has determined the beta-carotene in so-called "Golden Rice" converts to vitamin A in humans.
Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine and Tufts University said Golden Rice was developed during the early 1990s to create rice that contained beta-carotene -- a vitamin A precursor. In its current form, Golden Rice contains 35 micrograms of beta-carotene per gram.
"We found that four units of beta-carotene from Golden Rice convert to one unit of vitamin A in humans," Baylor Associate Professor Michael Grusak said. He said the researchers made that determination by feeding five healthy adults a specific amount of specially-labeled Golden Rice and then measuring the amount of retinol, a form of vitamin A, in their blood.
Vitamin A deficiency is prevalent in many parts of the world, producing vision problems or even blindness as a result.
"By incorporating vitamin A into the major crop that is consumed, we would be able to make it accessible to the majority of people in the area," Grusak said, noting additional research is necessary before Golden Rice is made commercially available.
The study that also involved Guangwen Tang, Jian Qin, Gregory Dolnikowski and Robert Russell from the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University is reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.