Efficacy of Malunggay (Moringa oleifera) leaves in improving the iron and vitamins A and B status of Filipino schoolchildren

M.E. Serafico, L.A. Perlas, C.R. Magsadia, J.A. Desnacido, R.V. Viajar, E.O. Rongavilla, G.P. Azana, T.P. Trinidad
The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and vitamin A deficiency (VAD) remain at a significant public health level in the Philippines as shown by National Nutrition Surveys conducted by the FNRI-DOST. While riboflavin and folic acid deficiencies among schoolchildren could also be areas of concern, nutritional assessment of these vitamins are lacking. In this study, Moringa oleifera, locally known as Malunggay, was considered as a possible solution to these problems because of its high nutritional content. The study was conducted in two public elementary schools in Muntinlupa City where 121 underweight children aged 8-10 years old were divided into control (n=60) and experimental (n=61) groups. The control group was fed with snack foods (arrozcaldo, ginataang mais, macaroni soup, pancit canton and polvoron) during recess while the experimental group was fed with the same snack foods wherein three grams Malunggay leaf powder (MLP) was added. Height and weight, food intake and hemoglobin, serum ferritin, vitamin A, riboflavin and folic acid were measured before and after the 120-day feeding period. Results showed that the consumption of the snack foods significantly increased the nutrient intakes of the children. Greatest increase was recorded for vitamin A intake of the children given 3 g MLP. Endline vitamin A intake exceeded the requirement for vitamin A. Increase in height and weight between the groups were not different. Increase in hemoglobin levels was greater among children who consumed snack foods with MLP while increase in serum vitamin A levels was observed in both groups. A significant increase in serum folic acid was recorded in the experimental group. In conclusion, regular consumption of Malunggay leaves may help alleviate certain micronutrient deficiencies such as IDA, VAD and folic acid deficiency.
Serafico, M.E., Perlas, L.A., Magsadia, C.R., Desnacido, J.A., Viajar, R.V., Rongavilla, E.O., Azana, G.P. and Trinidad, T.P. (2017). Efficacy of Malunggay (Moringa oleifera) leaves in improving the iron and vitamins A and B status of Filipino schoolchildren. Acta Hortic. 1158, 293-302
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1158.33
moringa, hemoglobin, vitamin A deficiency, folic acid, riboflavin

Acta Horticulturae