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*Ohadoma S. C., Akuodor G. C., Osuala F. N. and Chukwu L. C.


The challenges and implications of nutritional toxicity which Manihot utilissima can pose on human health is the aim of this study. The production and utilization of M. utilissima as demonstrated in the sustained presidential initiative on M. utilissima production, processing and export is one of the most striking current issues in Nigeria national life. Based on this, the agricultural sector therefore, has become more attractive to a large number of Nigeria population hence the need to appropriately place within reach the knowledge of toxicity challenges associated with it. Generally, plants are chemical industries. They possess a plethora of chemicals that are toxic to animals and man, which inherently, they depend on to ward off predators. This is not at variance with M. utilissima. The principal toxic agent of M. utilissima is called linamarin. This is a cyanogenic glycoside and often coexists with its methyl homologue referred to as lotaustralin or methyl-linamarin. When linamarin interacts with an enzyme β-glucosidase (linamarase), it is converted to hydrocyanic acid (HCN). The enzyme is usually released when the cells of M. utilissima roots are ruptured. Many health disorders have been implicated with the toxic tendencies of M. utilissima. It has been confirmed for instance, in the pathological condition of acute cyanide intoxication as well as in goiter. HCN is detoxicated in the body in the presence of the enzyme rhodanase, to throcyanate (SCN) which is a sulphur-containing compound with goitrogenic properties. There exist also, evidence linking tropical ataxic neuropathy and epidemic spastic paraparesis – two types of paralysis, to the combined effects of high cyanide and low sulphur intake. In these two unfortunate diseases, the spinal cord damage leads to paralysis. In the etiology of tropical diabetes, the role of cyanide toxicity has been established. This is also true in congenital malformation. Upon ingesting of huge amount of poorly processed high-cynogens M. utilissima, fatal poisoning becomes inevitable. However, the possibility of reducing or outrightly eliminating toxic effects from M. utilissima, even if poorly processed is there, if copious protein intake represents more than adequate for general metabolism and elimination by cyanide. By implication therefore, the lack of protein in M. utilissima roots accounts probably for most less-fatal incidences of cyanide poisoning that are associated with M. utilissima. The best prevention from M. utilissima toxicity remains proper processing to eliminate the toxic substances.

Keywords: Manihot utilissima, cassava, nutritional toxicity, challenges, Nigerian agricultural revolution.

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