Palm oil is a food source of energy and fatty acid. Besides being an energy source, palm oil also has relatively high vitamin A content compared to other food sources (Table). Palm oil is rich with beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A (Krinsky, 1993). The vitamin A content of red palm oil is much higher than of other foods recognized as vitamin A sources, such as oranges, carrots, bananas, etc.
Table : The comparison of vitamin A (retinol level) of palm oil and other food
|Food sources||mg Retinol|
Level/100 g (edible)
|Red palm oil (refined)||5,000|
|Crude palm oil (CPO)||6,700|
Source: Hariyadi (2010)
The benefits of vitamin A content in palm oil for human health have been proven through much health and medical research. They include the prevention of vitamin A deficiency, the prevention and treatment of blindness and the reestablishment of the body’s immune system. It also helps to prevent cancer and tumors, fights free radicals, hampers liver enlargement and boosts immunity, lowers cholesterol, improves cognitive function, prevents coronary artery and heart diseases, among others (Oey et al., 1967; Karyadi dkk., 1968; Muhilal dkk., 1991; Carlier et al., 1993; Richard, 1993; Choo, 1994; Ooi et al., 1994; Nagendran et al., 2000; Van Stuijvenberg and Benade, 2000; Canfield et al., 2001; Oguntibeju et al., 2009; Rice and Burns, 2010; Sandjaja et al., 2014).
Palm oil with vitamin A content can also be used to treat many diseases associated with vitamin A deficiency such as blindness, xerophthalmia and hemeralopia. Research conducted by the Indonesian Health Ministry from 1963 to 1965 found that the consumption of red palm oil (RPO) helps to improve vitamin A status, which can be seen from the increase of the amount of vitamin A in serum from children (Oey, KL et al., 1967). Other research conducted by the Center for Nutrition Research and Development in Bogor (Muhilal dkk., 1991) found that treatment using palm oil can cure xerophthalmia patients suffering from hemeralopia.
From the description above it is clear that palm oil is not merely a source of energy and vitamin A, but also the cure for various diseases.