Twenty Angus steers were fed a diet low in β-carotene and vitamin A for 10 months. Ten steers were supplemented with vitamin A weekly, while the other ten steers did not receive any additional vitamin A. The results demonstrated that the restriction of vitamin A intake increased intramuscular fat (IMF) by 46%. This was a function of the total number of marbling flecks increasing by 22% and the average marbling fleck size increasing by 14%. Vitamin A restriction resulted in marbling flecks that were less branched (22%) and slightly more round (4%) with an increased minor axis length (7%). However, restricting vitamin A did not affect the size of the intramuscular or subcutaneous adipocyte cells or the subcutaneous fat depth. The results suggest that vitamin A affects the amount of marbling and other attributes of the marbling flecks due to hyperplasia rather than hypertrophy. This may explain why vitamin A restriction specifically affects IMF rather than subcutaneous fat deposition.
- Computer image analysis
- Intramuscular fat