Year : 2013  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 76-81

Eggs of free-range hens in northern Nigeria are a good source of docosahexaenoic acid for pregnant and lactating women

1 Departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Surgery, School of Medicine, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
2 Department of Biotechnology, Yuanpei University, Hsinchu, Taiwan

Correspondence Address:
Robert H Glew
Department of Surgery, MSC 10 5610, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2276-7096.123575

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Background/Purpose: Although docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is critical for the normal development of the central nervous system, especially in utero and during the 1 st year of life, the concentration of this important polyunsaturated fatty acid in the milk fat of Nigerian women is low relative to international standards. There is a compelling need to identify dietary sources of DHA for pregnant and lactating women in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere in the world where populations live inland far from the sea and therefore lack access to DHA-rich ocean fish. Hen's eggs represent a potentially useful source of DHA. Methodology: Since the DHA content of eggs varies greatly with the hen's diet and knowing from studies elsewhere in the world that free-range (FR) hens produce eggs enriched for DHA, we compared the fatty acid compositions of the yolk of eggs from FR and "commercial" hens in northern Nigeria. Results: The percentage of DHA in the FR eggs was 2.6-fold higher (P < 0.001) compared to commercial eggs. Two FR eggs per day could satisfy about three-fourths of the daily recommended intake of DHA for pregnant and lactating women. The FR eggs also contained 2.8-fold (P < 0.001) more α-linolenic acid, more than 10-fold more eicosapentaenoic acid, and 4.1-fold more of the healthful conjugated linoleic acids than commercial eggs. Conclusion: Eggs produced by FR hens could be useful in improving the fatty acid nutrition of pregnant and lactating women in Nigeria, and ultimately their infants who derive much of their nutrition from breast milk.

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