Nutrition education is viewed as a means of changing "food habits". However, dietary patterns depend on many other factors that cannot be overcome by appropriate nutrition teaching, such as socioeconomic, ecological, cultural and anthropological aspects. Some of these factors generate "alimentary taboos" which hamper the choice of foodstuffs for a balanced diet. This paper deals with some of these questions, in an attempt to increase awareness about nutrition education in a wider context as an effective strategy in the fight against vitamin A deficiency, one of the major Nutrition and Public Health problems of our world. The main determinant of this deficiency is inadequate nutrition generally unrelated to traditional "education" and socioeconomic factors. Several studies have shown that, in Brazil, the main cause of vitamin A deficiency is inadequate consumption of sources of the vitamin because of factors such as taboos, beliefs and bans. Health professionals must be made more aware that, when micronutrient deficiencies are involved, they must look not only at social or economic variables, but also at the cultural aspects involved.
vitamin A; food habits; socioeconomic factors; cultural; taboo; nutrition education