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1.0                                                      INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background to the Study

Vegetables are one of the most natural foods that contain different micronutrients and thousands of phytochemicals known for their health benefits. There is a wide variety of indigenous vegetables and fruits found in Africa, which are chief sources of micronutrients, antioxidants, and proteins (Odhav et al., 2007). Some of the indigenous vegetables and fruits are mainly used by inhabitants for medicinal purposes (Eifediyi et al., 2008). Leafy vegetables and herbs are relatively inexpensive. They are easy to prepare as rich sources of precursors of several nutrients, especially β-carotene.

Many indigenous plants (trees, shrubs, herbs, twigs and leafy vegetables) are consumed as food, spices or used for medicinal purposes in Nigeria (Nwaogu et al., 2007). Vegetables, especially tomatoes and leafy vegetables, fruits, dried beans and nuts serve as sources of iron (non-heme). In addition to the iron contained in vegetables, the high levels of vitamin C in many vegetables will increase the efficiency of dietary iron absorption (McKinley Health Center, 2010). Consumption of green leafy vegetables can reduce many micronutrient deficiency diseases. Green leafy vegetables are rich sources of carotenoids as well as iron, calcium, ascorbate, riboflavin, folate and appreciable amounts of other minerals.

Micronutrients are nutrients needed in minute specific quantities in the body. Most of them are not produced in the body. They are derived from food when consumed. Some of these micronutrients are vitamins A, B12, iron, folate, iodine and zinc. Prolonged inadequate intake of foods rich in these micronutrients precipitates their deficiencies. One-third of the world’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies, due to inadequate dietary intake (Fielder and Macdonald, 2009). Micronutrient malnutrition is widespread in the industrialized nations and even more so in the developing regions of the world. This is due to endemic nature of malaria between 10 to 20% of the population presents less than 10 g/dl of haemoglobin (Diallo et al., 2008).

According to World Health Organization (2001), anaemia is defined as a hemoglobin concentration lower than the established cutoff. This cutoff figure ranges from 110 g/L for pregnant women and for children 6 months–60 months of age, to 130 g/L for men. Sex, age, and pregnancy status, other factors influence the cutoff values for hemoglobin concentration while others include altitude, race, and whether or not the individual smokes (WHO, 2001). Anaemia can be diagnosed by analyzing the hemoglobin concentration in blood or by measuring the proportion of red blood cells in whole blood (hematocrit). Nutritional anaemia is caused when there is an inadequate body store of a specific nutrient needed for hemoglobin synthesis. The most common nutrient deficiency is iron. Iron plays an important   role in the production of haemoglobin.

Iron deficiency is a condition in which the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood is reduced, indicating a sign of an underlying disease (Ochei and Kolhatkar, 2008). It occurs because of lack of the iron in the body. Iron deficiency is ranked at the top of three global “hidden hungers” (iron, iodine and vitamins A) with about one fifth of the world’s population suffering from iron deficiency anaemia (WHO, 2008a). Iron deficiency in its most severe form results in anaemia–Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA). The prevalence of anaemia has often been used as proxy of IDA (United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2004).

Forty percent of the world’s population (>2 billion individuals) suffer from anaemia (WHO, 1996), many are due to iron deficiency (UNICEF, 2004). Iron deficiency is estimated to be the most common cause of anaemia worldwide and is particularly prevalent in developing nations in Africa and Asia (Stoltfzfus et al, 2004). A review of national representative survey from 1993 to 2005 showed that 30% of non-pregnant women of childbearing age, 42% of pregnant women, and 47% of preschool children worldwide had anaemia (Kraemer and Zimmermann, 2011). In developing countries, the prevalence of anaemia is 20% in children of school age (Echendu and Onimawo, 2003).

Anaemia constitutes a serious health problem in many tropical countries. This is because of the prevalence of malaria and other parasitic infection. In 31 of the 38 African countries that had data on iron deficiency, every second child under the age of 5 suffers from iron deficiency (FORTAF, 2000). In Nigeria, Anaemia Prevalence among Under-five Children in Imo State showed that 70.5% was anaemic and 48.1% were iron deficient (Onyemaobi and Onimawo, 2011). Anaemia precipitates decreased level of circulating haemoglobin, less than 13 g/dl in male and 12 g/dl in females (Okochi et al., 2003). The thrust of this investigation is to determine the micronutritent content and effect of extracts of Jatropha curcas and Brillantasia nitens in anaemia induced rats.

1.2 Statement of the Problem          

Anaemia is an important public health problem in both developed and developing countries (Administrative Committee on Coordination – Sub-Committee on Nutrition (ACC/SCN), 2004). It is a worldwide nutritional disorder that is highly prevalent in developing regions of the world and has been a major public-health problem affecting a greater percentage of the world’s population (Haidar, 2010). Most developing countries are battling with hunger, poverty and high rate of unemployment. These give rise to food insecurity in most of the households. Insufficient consumption of vegetables and fruits annually causes 2.7 million deaths worldwide, and is one of the top ten risk factors contributing to human mortality (Oladele, 2011). Anaemia affects all age groups but is more concentrated in preschool aged children and women, making it a global health problem (McLeam, Co Swell, Egli, Wofdylay and De Benoist, 2009).

The prevalence of iron deficicency anaemia is at a greater rate in many developing countries including Nigeria especially among the low socio-economic class citizens who cannot afford the cost of sources from animal origin that are rich in iron. Deficiency of some micronutrient such as copper, vitamin A, vitamin B complex (folate and B12) can increase the risk of anaemia. These deficiencies usually occur where diets are not diversified to include sufficient quantities of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meats and fish which are best sources of micro-nutrients (Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2002). The incidence of anaemia is likely to increase in future (Duff, 2008), therefore, the need arises to prevent it or seek for more cost-effective and better treatment strategies.

A good number of medicinal plants are traditionally employed to alleviate anaemia. Some vegetables have been successfully used locally to reverse cases of iron deficiency anaemia. These vegetable are lesser known and are more available during rainy season. Based on these observations, it is imperative that whole or extract of some common or lesser known vegetables be used as effective remedy to manage iron deficiency anaemia. It is therefore, very necessary to scientifically establish the micronutrient contents and effects of Jatropha curcas and Brillantasia nitens leaves extracts in anaemia induced rats.


1.3       Objective of the Study

Broad Objective

The broad objective of this study was to determine the micronutrient content and effects of Jatropha curcas and Brillantasia nitens leaves extracts in anaemia induced adult male albino rats

Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of the study were to;

  1. determine the proximate composition of Jatropha curcas and Brillantasia nitens leave extract;
  2. determine the micronutrient (iron, zinc, copper, beta carotene, vitamin C, E, B6, and B9) composition of Jatropha curcas and Brillantasia nitens leave extract;
  3. determine the antinutrient (tannins, phytates and oxalate) contents of Jatropha curcas and Brillantasia nitens leave extract;
  4. determine the phytochemicals (saponins, flavoniod and alkaloids) contents of Jatropha curcas and Brillantasia nitens leave extract;
  5. evaluate the effects of the extracts on some haematological indices (packed cell volume (PCV), red blood cell (RBC), white blood cell (WBC), hemoglobin (Hb), mean corpuscular volume (MCV), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) of the anaemia induced male rats;

determine the liver function test (alanine amino transferase (ALT), aspartate amino transferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP)) of the anaemia induced male rat

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