Biofortification of maize with beta-carotene has the potential to improve vitamin A status in vitamin A deficient populations where maize is a staple crop. Accurate assessment of provitamin A carotenoids in maize must be performed to direct breeding efforts. The objective was to evaluate carotenoid extraction methods and determine essential steps for use in countries growing biofortified maize. The most reproducible method based on coefficient of variation and extraction efficiency was a modification of Kurilich and Juvik (1999). Heat and saponification are required to release carotenoids from biofortified maize and remove oils interfering with chromatographic analysis. For maize samples with high oil content, additional base may be added to ensure complete saponification without compromising results. Degradation of internal standard before carotenoids were released from the maize matrix required the addition of internal standard after heating to prevent overestimation of carotenoids. This modified method works well for lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene, and -betacarotene.
Howe, J.A.; Tanumihardjo, S.A. Evaluation of analytical methods for carotenoid extraction from biofortified maize (Zea mays sp.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2006) 54 (21) 7992-7997. [DOI: 10.1021/jf062256f]