Benefits and Harms of Edible Vegetable Oils and Fats Fortified with Vitamins A and D as a Public Health Intervention in the General Population: A Systematic Review of Interventions


This systematic review aims to assess whether edible vegetable oils and fats fortified with vitamin A and/or D are effective and safe in improving vitamin intake and ameliorating deficiency states in the general population. In November 2022, we systematically searched MEDLINE, Cochrane CENTRAL, Scopus, Global Index Medicus,, and WHO ICTRP (International Clinical Trials Registry Platform) for randomized controlled trials (RCT) and non-randomized studies of interventions (NRSI) investigating the fortification of edible vegetable oils and fats with either vitamin A or vitamin D or both as compared to the same vegetable oils and/or fats without vitamin A and D fortification or no interventions, in the general population, without age restriction. We assessed the methodological quality of included RCTs using Cochrane’s risk of bias tool 2.0 and of NRSIs using ROBINS-I tool. We performed random-effects meta-analysis and assessed certainty of evidence using GRADE. We included eight studies. Available evidence showed no significant effect of fortification with vitamin A on serum retinol levels (RCTs: MD 0.35 µmol/L, 95% CI −0.43 to 1.12; two trials; 514 participants; low-certainty evidence; CCTs: MD 0.31 µmol/L, 95% CI −0.18 to 0.80; two trials; 205 participants; very low-certainty evidence) and on subclinical vitamin A deficiency. Low-certainty evidence showed no effect of vitamin D fortification on serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D concentration (MD 6.59 nmol/L, 95% CI −6.89 to 20.07; one trial; 62 participants). In conclusion, vitamin A-fortified vegetable oils and fats may result in little to no difference in serum retinol levels in general populations. The dose of vitamin A used in the trials may be safe but may not be sufficient to reduce subclinical vitamin A deficiency. Further, the evidence suggests that vitamin D fortification results in little to no difference in serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D concentration. Several aspects of providing fortified oils and fats to the general population as a public health intervention should be further investigated, including optimal fortification dose, effects on vitamin D deficiency and its clinical symptoms and potential adverse effects.