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American Journal of Potato Research

, Volume 85, Issue 4, pp 277–285 | Cite as

Positioning the Potato as a Primary Food Source of Vitamin C

  • S. L. Love
  • J. J. Pavek
Article

Abstract

Ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C, is a crucial nutrient in the human diet. It performs many physiological functions in its primary roles as an electron donor and antioxidant. Vitamin C has been directly linked to collagen formation, iron absorption, cancer prevention, immunomodulation, and maintenance of normal nerve function. It is suspected to decrease the likelihood of strokes, cataracts, hypertension, and lead toxicity. Vitamin C deficiency leads to a condition called scurvy, accompanied by a weakening of blood vessels, bones and connective tissues, hair and tooth loss, joint swelling, and eventually death. Intake of vitamin C is considered inadequate, even among some parts of the population in developed countries where diet is not restricted, but more especially for at-risk populations in developing countries. Potatoes are an important worldwide source of vitamin C, contributing about 20% of the dietary intake in Europe. They are a vital source of vitamin C not only because of relatively high content, but because they can be stored, leading to consistent availability. Any improvement in the vitamin C content of potato products will have a beneficial impact on human nutrition. A three-pronged approach can be used to increase the vitamin C content of potatoes involving breeding, improved crop management, and modification of cooking processes. Breeding has tremendous potential for increasing vitamin C content in tubers as evidenced by research results in studies documenting germplasm variability and inheritance patterns. Management research may define practices that will slow the natural decline that occurs near the end of field growth and storage, a response partially conditioned by plant stress. Research into cooking procedures may help reduce the oxidative and enzymatic degradation of vitamin C that results from exposure to moisture, heat, and air.

Keywords

Ascorbic acid Nutrition 

Resumen

El ácido ascórbico, mejor conocido como vitamina C, es un nutriente imprescindible en la dieta humana. Realiza muchas funciones cuyo principal rol es como donante de electrones y antioxidante. La vitamina C ha sido directamente ligada a la formación de colágeno, absorción de hierro, prevención de cáncer, modulación inmunológica y mantenimiento de la función nerviosa. Parece que disminuye la posibilidad de ataques de apoplejía, cataratas, hipertensión y toxicidad por plomo. La deficiencia de vitamina C produce escorbuto, acompañado por un debilitamiento de las venas, huesos y tejido conectivo, pérdida de pelo y dientes, hinchazón de las articulaciones y eventualmente la muerte. El consumo de vitamina C es considerado inadecuado, aún entre parte de la población en los países en desarrollo. La papa es una importante fuente de vitamina C a nivel mundial que contribuye con un 20% del consumo dietético en Europa. Además es una fuente vital de vitamina C no solo por su alto contenido, sino porque puede ser almacenado, contribuyendo a una permanente disponibilidad. Cualquier mejora en el contenido de vitamina C de los productos de papa tiene un impacto benéfico en la nutrición humana. Se puede usar un enfoque de tres puntos para incrementar el contenido de vitamina C en la papa incluyendo el mejoramiento genético, manejo mejorado del cultivo y modificación del proceso de cocción. El proceso de mejoramiento genético tiene un gran potencial para incrementar el contenido de vitamina C en los tubérculos como ha sido evidenciado en resultados de investigación para documentar la variabilidad del germoplasma y patrones de herencia. La investigación sobre manejo puede definir las practicas que retardan el declive natural que ocurre cerca del final de crecimiento de la planta en el campo y el proceso de almacenaje, respuesta parcialmente acondicionada por el estrés de la planta. La investigación de los procedimientos de cocción pueden ayudar a reducir la degradación oxidativa y enzimática de la vitamina C que resulta de la exposición a la humedad, calor y aire.

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Copyright information

© Potato Association of America 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aberdeen R & E CenterUniversity of IdahoAberdeenUSA
  2. 2.Aberdeen R & E CenterUSDA/ARSAberdeenUSA

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