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nutritional value and impact of moringa - the 'miracle tree'

This question was posted the Prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition forum area and has 15 replies. You can also reply via email – be sure to leave the subject unchanged.

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Victoria Sibson

independent nutritionist

Normal user

2 Sep 2011, 18:19

Moringa is a nutritious tree grown in the tropics, sometimes called the ‘miracle tree’.

Does anyone have any good programming examples that they can share with us at Save the Children, so we can learn more about how moringa has been used in programmes to prevent malnutrition?

And does anyone have any know of any robust evidence on the nutritional impact of moringa at an individual or population level? We are looking for any data that exists that shows plausible links between consumption and improved nutritional indices in children and mothers (PLW) (e.g child weight / height, babies’ birth weight, micronutrient status).

Thank you!

Anonymous 598

Normal user

25 Aug 2014, 14:12

Hi all,
I am interest to lear of any new updates on the same question posed by Victoria Sibon in 2011 on Moringa:

"And does anyone have any know of any robust evidence on the nutritional impact of moringa at an individual or population level? We are looking for any data that exists that shows plausible links between consumption and improved nutritional indices in children and mothers (PLW) (e.g child weight / height, babies’ birth weight, micronutrient status)."

Thank you.

Dimitry

Moringa World

Normal user

25 Aug 2014, 14:49


*Moringa \per 100g*

Ash ASUL 06.00-4(a)…………………...…… 8.9g
Dry matter…………………………….……....91.8g
Water…………………………………..……….8.7g
Fiber…………………………………….……..22.3g
Total protein…………………………………..27.3g
Conversion factor total nitrogen
To protein 6.25
Total fat………………………………………..…3.8g
Carbohydrates………………………………….28.0g


*Minerals*

Copper………………………………..……………..0.6mg
Iron………………………………………………….43.6mg
Magnesium……………………….....……………..459mg
Sodium……………………………..………………25.5mg
Zinc…………………………………..………………2.2mg
Phosphorus…………………………......………….367mg
Potassium…………………………...…………….1448mg
Calcium……………………………..……………..1338mg


*Vitamins*

Biotin………………………………...……………..29.5ug
Folic acid……………………………....…………..780 ug
Niacin (B3)……………………….......……………..11mg
Vitamin B1………………………....……………..0.27mg
Vitamin B2………………………......……………..2.3mg
Vitamin B6………………………....……………..1.15mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)…………..........………….2.15mg
Vitamin C…………………………...….………….29.2mg
Vitamin A…………………………..…………..8030.73ug
Vitamin K1………………………………..………897.5ug
Vitamin E……………………………………...........44mg


*Amino acids*

Arginine………………………………………….1325mg
Histamine…………………………...……………613mg
Lysine……………………………………………1325mg
Tryptophan………………………....…………...1388mg
Methionine…………………………......…………350mg
Threonine……………………………...…………1188mg
Leucine…………………………………………..1950mg

This is whats in our moringa the nutrional analysis was done in Germany, i dont have a direct evidence or program but if you see the values and the fact that its 98% of the nutrients are bio available to the body. It will most sertainly have a great impact on a child eating it mixed with food.

Merry

Friedman School of Nutr Science & Policy, Tufts Un

Normal user

25 Aug 2014, 18:04

This is great, thank you Dimitry. Do you have a citation for this information?

Lyndsey McLellan

Normal user

25 Aug 2014, 18:16

Hi,
For my Public Health nutrition masters a few years ago I ran a controlled trial in 120 under 5's in a rural setting in Malawi. My dissertation looked at the acceptability of dried moringa leaf powder in likuni phala (maize porridge) but we did continue to run the trial for a year taking anthropometric data each month. I still have the date but it's not in a very user friendly format! (a paper that should have been written some time ago!) Please email me and I'm more than happy to share it with you. We also had some analysis of the leaf powder done in Cambridge, UK so we knew what was in the moringa.

Feel free to email me lyndseymclellan@yahoo.co.uk - I'm currently based in Uganda.

Tariq Khan

Normal user

25 Aug 2014, 18:42

This is a great thing, I just heard of it now. Would like to know more about its usage, processing etc.

Thanks.
T.

Anonymous 598

Normal user

25 Aug 2014, 22:26

Thanks Morninga World.

The Nutritional value from USDA is different: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3021?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=moringa

Protein is: 9.4 vs 27
carbohydrates is: 8.28 vs 28

would you know where the differences are coming from?

Dimitry

Moringa World

Normal user

26 Aug 2014, 08:33

the difference is coming from the farming methods...organic methods will produce higher nutritional values.

André BRIEND

Frequent user

26 Aug 2014, 09:33

The difference between the two compositions look far too large to me to be explained by the farming method. I see that the composition given by Dimitry gives 92% of dry matter. We are talking about dry leaf extract, whereas presumably USDA gives the nutritional composition of fresh leaves. This may well explain the discrepancy.

I saw many claims over the last 30 (+) years of different miracle foods, which never met expectations when tested with a rigorous protocol. No single food is a “miracle” food and is sufficient to cover all nutritional needs. Humans have many nutritional requirements and need a highly diversified diet, not just a single miracle food to cover them all. Moringa leaves are no exception and have a high level of Fe compared to Zn and will not be adequate to correct the Zn deficiency, which is most prevalent in poor countries, unless given with some other Zn rich foods.

The claim that nutrients in Moringa leaves are 98% available need some solid reference. Does this refer as well to zinc ? iron ? calcium ?

Dimitry

Moringa World

Normal user

26 Aug 2014, 09:51

the nutrients are all in food state in the moringa and the body absobs them fully ofcource anything access will be passed out of the system. We are speaking of absorbtion in a healthy body... so untill the person slowly replenishes the missing mico nutrients the absorbtion will not be at 100% but once repletness has been reached the absorbtion will balance. the content of dry leaves and fresh leaves differs due to the curing prosses where the content of protein becomes higher if further fermentation is done lots of the values of other nutrients also increase.

Dimitry

Moringa World

Normal user

26 Aug 2014, 10:18

we did the nutrional analysis in Germany i have the original report from the lab.

Dimitry

Moringa World

Normal user

26 Aug 2014, 11:43

Have you guys heard of fulvic acid ... it can be used to make synthesised nutrients into a food state

Eric S. Anderson

Nutrition Advisor USAID FFP

Normal user

26 Aug 2014, 13:28

Thanks to all for highlighting this. I work as the Nutrition Specialist for the Peace Corps and in many of our posts we have Volunteers working at the community who have really latched onto the promotion of Moringa production and consumption. Since, particularly in West Africa, powderizing the leaves has become marketable, there are certainly positives in increasing production and promotion of the commodity. However, further to some of the comments, when this is touted as a way to treat malnutrition or used in "nutrition rehabilitation" activities is when things get dicey.

I would be quite interested in the earlier research from our Uganda-based colleague on the thread about their study and the anthropometric measurements. The original question that resurfaced here has to do with nutritional impact/improved nutritional status. Restating the unique nutrient profile is not what is being asked, in fact, it is simply reinforcing the need for the question. Statements that assume that it therefore is going to improve nutritional status are oversimplified. Statements that claim 100% absorption would need some evidence to prove that claim.

Essentially, i suspect that even as evidence comes in, we'll be shown that moringa can be used as part of an overall strategy to improve dietary diversification or more specifically as part of an integrated strategy to improve MIYCN.

Dimitry

Moringa World

Normal user

27 Aug 2014, 11:12

there are few medical trails in regards to nurition conducted as we speak by few uneversities in South Africa, whene results are relised we can have a look at the bio availability and the moringa impact on a mal-nurished person.

Lyndsey McLellan

Normal user

27 Aug 2014, 17:11

I'm not sure about a comparison with the data above but from the analysis we had done most of our nutrient results were higher than the Fuglie, 1999 data that I was comparing it with.

From the other En-net user -
Protein is: 9.4 vs 27 ours was 35.31 (UK) or 23.7 (Malawi)– we had it done twice because we didn't quite believe the first result. If I remember all but one of the essential amino acids was also present.
carbohydrates is: 8.28 vs 28 - ours was 60(UK)/74.3(Malawi).

This was sun dried leaf powder – we tended to only use the newer fresher leaves to reduce the bitter taste. Maybe that extra carbohydrate is sugars?

I am very surprised how different these results are. I don't have a background in this so find it difficult to come to a conclusion other than to suggest before further work is done - this needs to be clarified. Our moringa was growing in Chikwawa, Malawi much of it was “wild” and been there a long time without anyone noticing it, so not sure farming technique would have played much of a role.

As for the absorption question, I don't know. There is very little evidence and it is also very difficult to trial. I was working on (I think generally accepted premise?) natural nutrients are absorbed better than artificial ones which we were replacing? Correct me if I am wrong!

As Andre says moringa is not (like any other product) the answer to malnutrition. The study I ran looked at the possibility of supplementing artificial supplements with a natural, easy to grow, cheap, local product. I developed 2 formulas containing different quantities of moringa to match the nutrient profile of the Likuni Phala. In order to maintain the protein content of the lower mix we had to include soya flour. Having just relooked at the formula I would suggest that maybe the protein could have been higher in the lower moringa mix. Apologise from my less experienced self!

Eric – I worked with a Peace Corp volunteer in the village. She made sure the anthropometric measurements were taken correctly when I wasn't there. She was a great help. Thanks!

What I don't really understand is why we are looking at dried moringa. Moringa is excellent used in a relish or in a salad. What should be happening is during nutrition education sessions etc tell people of the importance of including moringa in their diet. It is also very easy to grow. The easiest way is to pollard an existing tree (about 1m in length) and put it in the ground water in and watch it grow. I've seen villages in Chikwawa growing an eating loads of it. It's a green leafy vegetable and diversification of diet - where can we be going wrong?

Merry

Friedman School of Nutr Science & Policy, Tufts Un

Normal user

27 Aug 2014, 18:14

Hi Lyndsey,

Thanks for jumping into the discussion. It's been really interesting to follow.

Just to clarify a bit, the bioavailability of nutrients doesn't necessarily depend on whether it is obtained through natural food sources or through artificial sources. Rather it depends on the form it takes. Leaves and beans are notorious for having compounds in them that inhibit the absorption of many of the good things we want from them. Folic acid (folate) and B-12 are common examples where the chemical form is generally more readily absorbed than most natural forms. On the other hand, iron, vitamin D and vitamin A from liver is very readily absorbed.

What is eaten in combinations can also make a big difference in bioavailability. If the moringa is eaten with something acidic, like lemon juice, vinegar or tomatoes, this would probably help the body to absorb some of the mineral content, iron especially.

Quality of protein makes a very big difference. Moringa could have loads and loads of protein, but if there are key amino acids in very small amounts and it is the only real source of protein, then the body will only be able to make use of a portion of the protein. The rest is inefficiently turned into fuel. So knowing the amino acid profile of the moringa would help us to know what to complement it with (should it be pulses? cereals?) in order to maximize the benefit of the moringa.

With all these complications and things we just don't know, I very much like the idea of measuring the nutritional outcomes associated with moringa consumption in their normal diets.

I think, as you noted, the important point is that we want to help people to have the most nutrient dense diet possible. If they are replacing lettuce with moringa or just diversifying their diet, like you said it would be hard to go wrong.

Merry

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