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Students4Kids EN » CosmA – Vitamin A-enriched skin care oil

CosmA – Vitamin A-enriched skin care oil

Short description

Oil enriched with vitamin A can already counteract vitamin A deficiency in newborns and infants. The mother applies the oil to the breast before breastfeeding so that the infant absorbs it through the mouth during breastfeeding.

The problem we aim to solve

Up to now, the most effective method against vitamin A deficiency in small children has been capsule supplementation. The problem with capsule form supplementation is the very large quantity of retinyl esters – vitamin A in the form of retinol, esterified with a fatty acid as carrier. The infant with its still immature digestive system cannot sufficiently hydrolyze, i.e. cleave, in order to take up the resulting retinol via the intestine. In contrast to adults, this cleavage occurs almost exclusively in the infant’s mouth via the tongue lipase. In addition, capsules are not given until 6 months of age, when half of the critical 1000 day window has already elapsed.

Our solution

Our approach is characterised by the following points:

  1. The infant regularly receives small amounts of the micronutrient in the form of retinyl ester shortly after birth. With the help of the tongue lipase, these can be digested and absorbed by the infant completely or sufficiently, so that its liver storage increases in the long term.
  2. The enriched oil contains 20-50% of the natural breast milk concentration of vitamin A in a healthy breastfeeding woman. By applying vitamin A two to three times a day before breastfeeding, the infant absorbs vitamin A when suckling with breast milk without fear of toxicological risks.
  3. For enrichment, ready-to-eat oil with skin-caring properties is used, the production and raw material cultivation of which, at best, already takes place in Uganda. This is also intended to increase the sustainability of the project. One way to do this would be with Shea.
  4. In addition to the nutritive component, the caring effect of the oil plays a major role, which counteracts the formation of rhagades, deep skin tears on the stressed nipple.
  5. The primary contact points for the distribution of the oil are the partner clinics listed below. Here, pregnant women are, as far as possible, already informed about the advantages of the oil within the scope of preventive examinations and instructed in its use. With the help of the nurses, we are also planning to reach other women who are in the clinic as visitors or patients. The enriched oil is distributed to the mothers via the clinics, local partners or multipliers.

The innovativeness of our approach

Our approach is characterized by the new, effective dosage form that combines supplementation and breastfeeding. This means that vitamin A is given regularly and in physiological concentrations which the infant can fully absorb. Supplementation ensures an adequate supply of vitamin A shortly after birth. The simultaneous caring (cosmetic) aspect of the oil increases its compliance and prevents premature weaning.

Technologies and Methods

We would like to test various oils for acceptance in infants by means of self-experiments. In addition to the nutritional factors (similarity of fatty acid profile compared to breast milk, micronutrient content, etc.), skin-caring and anti-inflammatory effects are also taken into account when selecting the oil, as is local cultivation in Uganda. The ready-to-eat oil produced by small farmers is enriched in appropriate quantities by laboratory staff at Ugandan clinics and hospitals using pre-dosed vitamin A capsules.

Potential Partners

  • Clinics for the distribution of oil to women after birth: Direct personal contacts due to longer stays and local cooperation already exist with PAG Health Centre IV Lira and the NGO Vision for Africa Intl (own clinic in Mukono and at other locations in Uganda, their partners in Uganda)
  • Purchase of vitamin A capsules: NGOs such as Foundation Sight & Life, Helen Keller International, Micronutrient Initiative, (GIZ)
  • Purchase of the oil: local farmers and oil producers on site, possibly cosmetics manufacturers (Börlind – natural cosmetics)


Voting ends on June 24, 2018, 11:59 pm (CEST).

CosmA – Vitamin A-enriched skin care oil

Team: Julia Parussis

Judith Wollmershäuser

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