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: Tea fortification with vitamin A

: . Aliyar fouladkhah. A. Taslimi


Tea fortification with vitamin A

1. Aliyar fouladkhah, 2. A. Taslimi
. B.Sc student of food science and technology in Shahid Beheshti University of Tehran.
Faculty member of Shahid Beheshti university, department of nutrition and food science and technology.

E-mail: aliyar000@yahoo.com

Micronutrient malnutrition, something often called "Hidden Hunger", is a global
crisis. According to WHO report, around 2 billion people, 1/3 of the world
population, suffer from this problem. Obviously, the situation in developing
countries (like our country) is worse. Vitamin A deficiency is the second world
wide deficiency. Results of a study in our country showed that in most of the rural
areas and in several urban areas there is vitamin A deficiency. On the other hand,
tea is a popular drink and is a "national drink" in our country and most of the
people,even young children and the elderly drink this beverage several cups a day.
The purpose of this study is to suggest a practical approach, based on factories
situation in our country, for tea fortification, to correct and prevent vitamin A
hypovitaminosis in our country. Furthermore the stability, cost and the risk of
excessive intake of vitamin A in fortified tea is analysed as well.
Keywords: Tea Fortification, Vitamin A Hypovitaminosis, Hidden Hunger,
Fortifying Techniques.

There are three major micronutrient malnutritions, around the world:
1. Iron deficiency.
2. Vitamin A deficiency.
3. Iodine deficiency.
For Iodine deficiency we have had a successful experience in our country on table
salt fortification, and now we have no urgent need in this case. Besides, iodine is
not heat stable and it can not resist the thermal process of the tea cooking.
For tea fortification, based on the micronutrient deficiencies of our country, one of
the best choices as a fortificant is vitamin A. Annually 500/000 children die
because of vitamin A deficiency (Underwood, 1990) and too many children lose
their eye - sights, even permanently.
The positive feature of vitamin A is that it is resistant to thermal process of tea
making and there is just little cooking loss in this case.
tea Fortification with iron, because of it's interactions with tea phytochemicals
(mainly tannins) is not very successful. Consequently, tea fortification with vitamin
A is both effective and necessary. So the aim of this study is to suggest a practical
food based approach for trying to reduce and prevent vitamin A hypovitaminosis
in our country by means of tea fortification.


Table 1


At Risk

Vitamin A
Iron deficient or

Africa 181 86 52 1.0 206
Americas 168 63 16 0.1 94
South-East Asia 486 176 125 1.5 616
Europe 141 97 -- -- 27
173 93 16 0.1 149
West Pacific 423 141 42 0.1 1058
Total 1572 655 251 2.8 2150
WHO/UNICIF/ICCIDD (1994). WHO/UNICEF (1995) WHO(1992b).

Vitamin A status in Iran :
The first study was carried out in 1972 (as reported in kimiyagar el al., 1996) and it
showed that 90% of people in rural areas and 20% of people in urban areas of Iran,
consume less than RDA amount.
A study by kimiyagar et al. (1996), showed that in most rural areas and in several
urban areas there was vitamin A deficiency. The situation in some provinces was
worse for example in Semnan Province, 60% of people from urban areas and
88% of people from rural areas, receive vitamin A less than RDA amount.
Clinical signs of vitamin A deficiency were observed in most of the provinces
especially in kordistan, Hormozgan, kohgiloye and Boyerahmad and Sistan
provinces. (Kimiyagar et al, 1996).
A survey in Illam Province, showed that, 12-71 monthold children receive 2.28
4.56 days/week vitamin A precursors from plant sources but the optimum intake is
6 days/week and they receive 2.203.54 days/week vitamin A from animal sources
but the optimum intake is 4 days/week. (UNICEF, 1994).
Generally, there is a lack of information about vitamin A deficiency in Iran but
obviously, there is an intense need of vitamin A in most of the provinces especially
in rural area; and a good fortification program can play an important role for
preventing and reducing this problem.
Suitable premix :
According to Iowa Stale university research, the main problem in food fortification
in developing countries is choosing a suitable fortificant.


For tea fortification with vitamin A, one of the most important things is to choose
a premix. Since Vitamin A is fat-soluble, we should choose an emulsified premix
which has acceptable bioavailability, stability and a reasonable price.
Direct use of Retinal palmitate (RP) is not acceptable either. If we use RP as a
premix, we will not obtain a stable final product and the bioavailability of Vitamin
A in this form is lower than other commercial vitamin A premixes. In tea
fortification with pure RP, more probably, some untoward organoleptic changes
will occur. For choosing a commercial vitamin A formulation we have 3 major
constraints: first, there are just a few companies that produce synthetic vitamin A
and there is just one major company that supplies retinyl palmitate and retinyl
acetate for food fortification (1995). This factory (Hoffman La Roche) is
Located in Switzerland and it has limited premixes. In other word, for each specific
food and process we need a specific premix. But we have just limited numbers of
premixes. The second limitation is that for tea fortification with vitamin A, we
need water-soluble forms of premixes and the third one is religious limitation. In
our country we are just allowed to use "halal
foods ".In most vitamin A commercial premixes, there is some gelatin as a bed
for microencapsulation of vitamin A .This gelatin is extracted form cow's bone or a
fish; and in our country we have prohibition of using these two gelatin sources
(because of the non-Islamic slaughtering of cows and the species of that fish).Thus
we have to choose a formulation, which has no gelatin.
The purpose of preparing commercial formulation of vitamin A, is to make the
vitamin more stable and to protect it against different conditions that lead to
destruction and inactivation of vitamin A. Commercial premixes easily disperse in
the vehicle food and they have more bioavailability compared with pure vitamin A.
This table shows available commercial formulation of vitamin A for food
250 CWS Retinyl palmitate, acacia, sugar, modified food
starch, BHT, BHA, sodium benzoate,
Nonfat dry milk, dehydrated foods,
dry cereals, beverage powders to
be reconstituted before use.
250 S Retinyl palmitate, gelatin, sorbitol, modified
food starch, sodium citrate, corn syrup,
ascorbic acid, coconut oil, BHT, tocopherol,
silicon dioxide, BHA
Dry mix & fluid milk products
250 SD Retinyl palmitate, acacia, lactose, coconut oil,
BHT, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, silicon
dioxide, BHA
Foods & baked products,
dehydrated potato flakes, dry milk
500 Retinyl palmitate, gelatin, invert sugar,
tricalcium phosphate, BHT, BHA, sodium
benzoate, sorbic acid, sodium bisulfite
Dry mix and fluid milk products
Sucrose - retinyl palmitate emulsion in water Tea leaves
Oil Retinyl palmitate, BHA, BHT None


Based on the limitations which were explained we have three choices as
Commercial names:
1.250 CWS.
2.250 SD.
3. Emulsified RP.
1.250 CWS:
CWS is the abbreviation of cold water soluble. This premix rapidly disperses in
water and it is a popular choice for powders of fruit juices but it can be used for tea
fortification as well.
The active substances are retinyl palmitate emulsified in gum acacia, stabilizer,
antioxidant and preservatives. This premix is bright yellow and can contain up to
250/000 IU of vitamin A per gram. For fortification it should be mixed with tea. In
this method, the premix should be directly blended with tea. For maximum
recovery of this method, it's better to use tea dust.
The color of this premix is like tea flavonoids so it will not cause any appearance
change. In a study, this premix improved the vitamin A status of test population of
children compared with the controls (Muhilal ET. Al 1983).
2.250 SD
The active ingredient of this premix is like 250 CWS but it is more suitable for tea
fortification, because it is more heat stable.
This premix can be used in tea fortification too. The process of fortification can be
performed in two ways:
- Dry mixing
- Diluting and spraying on dry tea and drying in 60OC.
3- Emulsified Retinol Palmitate:
This premix is sucrose RP emulsion in water and it can be sprayed on tea leaves.
Table 3: An example of sucrose RP emulsion formulation:
Ingredient Amount
Sugar 76.35 kg
Vitamin A 250 CWS 22.03 kg
Peanut oil 2 kg
Antioxidant 0.008 kg
Total 100 kg

For making an emulsion we can use dextrin instead of sugar but the shelf-life of
sucrose-RP emulsion is better than dextrin-RP emulsion (Brooke and Corte, 1972).
This study , showed that after six mouths, products that were fortified with a


solution of 50 % sucrose emulsion had 90 % available vitamin but products that
were fortified with a solution of 20 % dextrin emulsion had just 20% available
vitamin A. The results showed that solutions with sucrose, had better shelf-life in
six months.
Literature Review of successful experiences:
The first suggestion for tea fortification was explained in 1940 in the USA.
The Successful projects were carried out in India in 1972 and in Pakistan in
1973(Lotfi, 1995). They used two procedures for tea fortification.
1- Fine powdered vitamin A palmitate (250 SD) by dry mixing with tea dust.
2- An emulsion of vitamin A palmitate, diluted with 50% sucrose solution by
spraying onto tea leaves.
In both Procedures, the added vitamin showed excellent storage stability (90 %) for
periods up to 6 months and showed 100% recovery after brewing.
Another study by Bauernfeind (1983), showed that, after one hour boiling of
fortified tea, the amount of vitamin A will not reduce significantly. Furthermore
Indian Panels didn't diagnose any organoleptic changes in fortified tea in
comparison with tea in control group.
Techniques of tea fortification with vitamin A:
1- Spray emulsion of vitamin A in cotton seed oil, on dried tea.
2- Spray diluted emulsion of vitamin A in 50% sucrose solution, on tea leaves.
3- Blending of dry tea with fine vitamin A powder (250 CWS or 250 SD).
4- Spray glycerin and then fine vitamin A powder on dried tea.
5- Spray diluted emulsion of vitamin A in 50% sucrose solution on dried tea.
For choosing an appropriate method for tea fortification, there are four important
characteristics of tea industry in our country that help us to choose the best
-We have too many small factories that can not afford expensive technologies.
-Most factories are old.
-More than half of our tea is imported from foreign countries and then blended with
-People in our country mainly use tea in traditional style (Bulk tea) rather than tea
1- Spray Emulsion of the premix of vitamin A in cotton seed oil, on dried tea:
In this method, when cotton seed oil comes out from nozzles of the spray, since it
is atomized and mixed with oxygen, it is very explosive so, this method is not a
safe method especially in our country that most tea factories are insecure and have
mostly no facilities for extinguishing fire. On the other hand, organoleptic
properties of the final product are not acceptable. In this case, the brewed tea will
have some oily patches on its surface.
2- Spray diluted emulsion of the premix of vitamin A in 50% sucrose solution on tea leaves:
Generally it is a good method but when we spray the emulsion on tea leaves, the
risk of microorganism spoilage will increase as the emulsion contains water and
50% sugar.
Especially in our country, because most factories are small and have no quality
control managers, the process control will become hard. So, it is not an acceptable


method in our country. The other problem with this method is our tea is mostly
blend with imported teas and so in this method control the amount of fortificant in
the final product is very hard.
3- Blending dry tea with fine premix of vitamin A (250 CWS or 250 SD):This method
has a good recovery when the tea is in dust form. So it is a good method for
fortifying inexpensive teas (Moaf tea, Barooty tea, Ghalam shekasle tea) and tea
But because most people cook tea in traditional style (using tea pot and bulk tea),
this method will not be efficient. However, tea bags can be good choices for
experimental tea fortification in our country in a small scale, before the main
In this case, the important note is that, tea bags should be cooked instead of dipping
to the hot water, to allow all of the vitamin to disperse in water phase.
4- Spray glycerin and then fine premix of vitamin A on dried tea:
This method is very effective. Glycerin makes the surface of the tea sticky and so it
improves the capacity of tea for holding the vitamin A powders. The only
drawback of this method is that this method needs two unit operations and so it is
more expensive than other methods. So small factories can not afford it.
5- Spray diluted emulsion of the premix of vitamin A in 50% sucrose solution on dried tea:
This method is one of the most effective and one of the cheapest methods and it is
more appropriate for our factories' situations and it can be applied to all grades of
tea. Furthermore, there are two successful experiences in India and Pakistan that
ensure that this is a high performance method(Lotfi,1995). After spraying the
emulsion, the tea should be re-dried again up to 2.5-3 % moisture content. An
acceptable method for re-drying is to exert 60OC (140 oF) heat for an hour.
Analysing the effectiveness of a fortification program:
For analysing the effectiveness of a fortification program, a crucial factor is
nutrient stability. There are several physical and chemical factors that determine
vitamin A losses during process and in post-manufacture period.
- Temperature and Thermal process.
- Humidity and moisture content.
- PH of the vehicle food.
- Oxygen
- Light
- Time (storage)
- Washing before use. (water washing).
- Surface area of vehicle food.
- Mechanical influences.
For analysing all of these factors in tea fortification there is not enough specific
information about tea. In the present article, it has been attempted to use
information about similar product like mono sodium glutamata (MSG), wheat
flour, rice, pasta and salt, which had successful vitamin A fortification before.
Generally the loss of vitamin A is 5-50% during and after process.


1. Temperature and thermal process:
Vitamin A is sensitive to high temperature. At temperature of 140OC and more
destruction of vitamin A is very rapid but below 100 OC temperatures it is stable.
Even after one hour boiling of tea, there is no significant loss of vitamin A
(Bauernfeind, 1983).In the study by Brooke and Corte (1972), there was no
significant loss of vitamin A during brewing and thermal process. After adding
the emulsion of vitamin A premix to the tea, we should re-dry tea. Roberton et .al
(1993) showed that Low Temperature Long Time (LTLT) methods are more
efficient than High Temperature Short Time (HTST) methods. (in pasta product).
The most popular preceding method for tea re-drying is designed in India. In this
method they dry the final product at 60OC with direct hot air for one hour.
2. Humidity and moisture content:
In Iowa Statue University research (1995)on vitamin A-fortified wheat, the half-
life of products which contain less than 11 % moisture content is more than 50
3. PH:
Vitamin A is very sensitive to the PH below 5. In this PH range, there is rapid
destruction of vitamin A and isomeration. Configuration of trans isomers to cis
isomers lead to reduction of bioavailability. Vitamin A is stable in 6-9 PH.
The PH of tea is 5.5-6.8 and so probably, there is no significant loss of vitamin A
because of the PH of the tea, but it needs some researches to be proved.
Fortification of lemon teas, which contain natural lemon concentrate, with vitamin
A will not be very successful because the PH of these products is below 5.
4. Oxygen:
Vitamin A is very sensitive to Oxidation, because it has five double bounds and it
can easily absorb oxygen. Esterified vitamin A, which is used for preparing
premixes, is the most stable form of vitamin A (Borenstain et al 1979).
Microencapsulation of vitamin A and using antioxidants like BHA, BHT and -
Tocopherol, prevent the destruction of Vitamin A during process and storage steps.
On the other hand, good packaging material and method can preserve the vitamin
A against oxidation.
Presence of 15-20% and more sucrose in premix emulsion, reduces the oxidation of
vitamin A (Johnson et al 1988).
5. Light:


Vitamin A is sensitive to ultraviolet rays, in this case for preventing destruction of
this nutrient; the best way is to use impermeable packages.
A study of Labuza et al in 1982 showed that the maximum vitamin A loss of
powdery fortified products, after six months at 20 OC and 75% R.H. is 10.0 %
7. Water washing:
According to a study in the Philippines on fortified rice with vitamin A, 15-20%
Vitamin A loss will happen if we wash the rice before cooking. There has been a
similar research in Indonesia on fortified Monosodium glutamate (MSG). (Iowa
State University,1995). So in fortified tea, there is a significant loss of Vitamin A if
the tea is washed before use.
8. Surface area of vehicle food:
Since the surface area of tea is very vast so this product exposes to greater risk of
nutrient loss. In this case a good packaging plays an important role for preserving
nutrients during storage. For fortification of tea bags, because we use tea dust, for
obtaining maximum recovery, it is better to package each tea bag individually,
before putting them in the main package.

Table 4.
Diameter of the particle
Number of particles
per gram

Surface area
per gram of particles
500 ~8,000 ~120
100 ~1,000,000 ~600
50 ~7,800,000 ~1,200
spherical particles
2 density ~ 1
9. Mechanical Forces:
During Process and after packaging, mechanical forces can damage the
microcapsules of vitamin A and make it more fragile against destruction factors.
Consequently, for preventing and reducing vitamin A loss during a fortification
program we should apply four protective procedures:
1. Choosing proper premix
- Antioxidant system
- Microencapsulation
- Particle size control
2. Controlling the process
- Control of temperature, PH, moisture content etc.
- Avoid shearing forces.
3. Suitable packaging
- Protect the product from air, light and mechanical forces.


4.Avoid washing before use .

The study by Brooke and Corte (1972), on tea fortification with vitamin A showed
that, 90% of added vitamin A will be available after 6 months and there will be no
significant loss of vitamin after five minute brewing. A study in bigger scale was
carried out by Paden et al. in 1979 in Pakistan. It showed that there is 47% vitamin
A loss after 12 weeks of fortified tea storage. So for obtaining a successful
fortification program we should calculate all of these factors and eventually choose
an appropriate amount of fortificant. .
Estimation of the amount of fortification:
A. Preceding procedures
The tea-vitamin A fortification was started in 1972 in India and 1973 in
Pakistan(Lotfi,1995).At first they used 125 IU (37.5 g) of vitamin A per gram of
tea. It is equal to 375 IU (112.5 g) per brewed cup ( 150 ml ). In 1979, after
the survey of Paden et al. the fortification program changed a bit. This survey
showed that 47% of the added vitamin will be destroyed before use.
Now, in India and Pakistan, 250 IU(75 g) of vitamin A per gram of tea is added to
tea. It is equal to 750 IU (225 g) vitamin A per brewed, 150 ml cup.
B. Estimation of the amount of fortification for our country:
Approximately, people in our country, use 4 cups of tea each day. The average of
RDA of males and females is 2666.6 IU (800 g). For each cup of tea (148 ml),
2.8 g of tea is needed (ISIRI Standard No. 2650). So, each person consumes 11.2 g
tea per day.
4 * 2.8 gr = 11.2 gr
For providing 50 % of RDA, each person should receive 1333.3 IU (400 g) of
vitamin A. 47 % of added vitamin will be destroyed before use (Paden et al. 1979)
and 80% of the vitamin will be absorbed from intestine(Ref.ExRx.net.). So for
compensation of these amounts, the daily intake from 4 cups should be 2226.6 IU
(668 g):
1333.3 IU * 47 % = 626.651 IU
1333.3 IU * 20% = 266.66 IU
1333.3 IU + 626.65 IU 1 + 266.66 IU = 2226.6 IU
Consequently, for receiving 50% of RDA amount of vitamin A from 4 cups of
fortified tea, we should add 200 IU of vitamin A per gram of tea (60 g/g). It is
equal to 570 IU of vitamin A per brewed cup (150 ml).
2226.6 IU 11.2 200 IU (60 g) per gram of tea
200 IU * 2.8 = 560 IU (170 g) per brewed cup.
Toxicity and excessive intake
Acute toxicities of vitamin A occurs when some one uses more than 100 RDA per
day (kraus et al 2004) It means that, if some one drinks 476 cups of this fortified
tea in a day, he will be exposed to the risk of an acute toxicity of vitamin A.
100 RDA = 2666.6 IU * 100 = 266660 IU
266660 IU 560 IU = 476.17 cups


For chronic toxicities, if someone uses more than 50.000 IU of vitamin A for more
than 12 moths, he will be exposed to chronic diseases. (IVACG, 1984, Ross,
1995). In other words, drinking more than 89 cups of this fortified tea per day,
after one year may cause chronic diseases.
50.000 IU 560 IU = 89.28 cups
Acceptable intake of vitamin A is up to 10.000 IU per day (Ross, 1995). So we can
drink up to 17 cups of this product per day without the risk of toxicity and chronic
10.000 IU 560 IU = 17.85 Cups
Consequently, if someone consumes 4 cups of this fortified product, he will receive
50% of the RDA amount of vitamin A and he can safely uses up to 17 cups of this
product per day and there is no probable risk of hypervitaminosis in normal cases.
Cost of fortification:
Food fortification is the most cost -effective program for reducing and preventing
micronutrient malnutrition.
A successful program of MSG-Vitamin A fortification in the Philippines showed
that in few first years, the fortification cost was U.S$ 0.11 (including set-up costs)
and after few year it was U.S$ 0.10 per capita. (Popkin et al 1980)
The fortification cost of sugar - Vitamin A program in Guatamala in 1990 was
U.S$ 0.03 Per capita And fortification cost of cooking fat in India with Vitamin A
in 1990 was U.S$ 0.30-0.40 per capita (FAO/ILSI, 1997). Generally, fortification
cost of dietary items with vitamin A needs 0.30 per capita, budget.

Result and Conclusion:
Tea fortification with vitamin A can play an important role for correcting and
preventing vitamin A deficiency in our country. Furthermore, the technology of
this process is accessible and inexpensive and most of the producers can afford it.
This method can be applied to both interior and imported teas and so it seems that
tea fortification with vitamin A can be an appropriate choice for solving vitamin A
hypovitaminosis in our country and it is worth paying more attention to it.
-Controlling the importation of tea and preventing the illegal importation .
-More investment on tea industry for increasing the quality of Persian tea.
-Increasing the public awarerness of fortified products.
-Paying more attention to fortification of staple foods with micronutrient.
-Pay more attention on packaging and packaging material of tea .
-Fortification of tea with vitamin A.


special thanks to:
-Dr. Kimiyagar
-Mr. Salahi
-Mr.Vahid Ghodsian
Who helped us to prepare this article review.

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