Micronutrient Content

Micronutrients comprise the inorganic mineral elements and the vitamins. Ash (inorganic mineral matter) comprises 1-3% of grain dry matter. Major mineral elements (potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium) and minor or trace elements (iron, zinc, copper, manganese, etc.) are found in all cereals. However, there are significant variations due to processing and other factors (Tables 10-13). There can also be substantial variations in the levels of trace minerals between crops due primarily to differences in their availability from the soil.

All cereals provide vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols; tocols), thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenate, folate, and biotin (Tables 10-13). Vitamin A (retinol) is not found in cereals. However, carotenes and cryptoxanthins, which yield retinol and thus have provitamin A activity, are found in maize, pearl millet, and sorghum. Levels of provitamin A are variable, with the highest amounts in yellow endosperm types and negligible amounts in white endosperm types. Typical values for retinol equivalents in maize, pearl millet, and sorghum are 44, 42, and 8 mg 100 g_1, respectively. Brown rice contains a trace amount (0-11 mg 100 g_1, and most of this is lost on milling. Vitamin A deficiency can be a major problem in areas where rice is a dietary staple. In an effort to combat this, rice has recently been genetically modified to produce so called 'golden rice' with provitamin A levels of about 160 mg 100 g_1. Vitamins B12, C, and D are not found in unfortified cereals.

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