Vitamin A deficiency and low prevalence of anemia in Yaqui Indian children in northwest Mexico

Mauro E. Valencia*, Humberto Astiazarán, Julian Esparza, Lucia González, Maria I. Grijalva, Alba Cervera, Plutarco Zazueta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A study of 296 school-age Yaqui Indian children (6-10 y) was conducted in 26 rural communities. Vitamin A status was determined by retinol and carotenoid serum levels according to a method described previously (IVACG, 1982). Serum retinol and carotenoids in children were analyzed according to community size. Vitamin A intake was assessed in a sub-sample by means of a 24 h recall questionnaire. Serum retinol distribution showed that 6.3% of the children were below 10 μg/100 mL (0.35 μmol/L) and 40% were in the range of 10-20 μg/100mL (0.35-0.70 μmol/L). Differences (p < 0.02) were found between small and large communities (Median, 95% CI): 19.2 (17.1, 20.9) μg/100mL and 22.9 (20.3, 24.1) μg/100mL. Serum carotenoid levels were significantly higher in large than in small and medium communities: 72 (68.2, 77.8) μg/100mL versus 62.4 (53.3, 68.2) and 62.4 (55.7, 69.6) μg/100mL, respectively. Food staples were wheat flour tortillas, pinto beans, corn tortillas, few animal products and scarce fresh vegetables. Mean vitamin A consumption was 244 ± 29 μg RE (34.9% of the US RDA). Iron status showed that only 4 children were classified as anemic, with two of them having iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficient erithropoiesis was observed in 7.8% of the children and iron depletion only in 4.4%. The Yaqui diet seems to provide adequate amounts of iron but not of vitamin A or its precursors, which renders a vitamin A status of sub-clinical deficiency that could be considered a public health problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-757
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Indian populations
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A


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