Background: Vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem worldwide, affecting approximately 190 million preschool-aged children and 19.1 million pregnant women. Fortification of vegetable oils with vitamin A is an effective, low-cost technology to improve vitamin A intake.
Objective: To examine the potential contribution of fortification of vegetable oils with vitamin A in Indonesia and Malaysia to increasing vitamin A consumption in these two countries and in countries to which oil is exported.
Methods: Detailed interviews were administered and a desk review was conducted. We also estimated potential vitamin A intakes from fortified vegetable oil.
Results: Malaysia and Indonesia are two of the largest producers and exporters of vegetable oil. Fortification of vegetable oil in both countries has the potential to be used as a tool for control of vitamin A deficiency. Both countries have the capacity to export fortified vegetable oil. Vegetable oil fortified at a level of 45 IU/g could provide 18.8% of the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for an Ethiopian woman, 30.9% and 46.9% of the EAR for a Bangladeshi child and woman, respectively, and 17.5% of the EAR for a Cambodian woman. Although concerns about obesity are valid, fortification of existing vegetable oil supplies does not promote overconsumption of oil but rather promotes consumption of vegetable oil of higher nutrient quality.
Conclusions: Fortifying vegetable oil on a large scale in Malaysia and Indonesia can reach millions of people globally, including children less than 5 years old. The levels of fortification used are far from reaching the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). Vegetable oil fortification has the potential to become a global public health intervention strategy.