Iron Absorption in Anemic Pigs
July 20, 2001
Adding a key enzyme to an anemic
piglets diet helps the animal absorb iron and phosphorus and replace
missing hemoglobin, according to Agricultural Research Service and
ARS animal physiologist William A. House at the
U.S. Plant, Soil and
Nutrition Laboratory in Ithaca, N.Y., teamed with Cornell University
scientists to study the efficiency of an enzyme called phytase in releasing
phytate-bound iron and phosphorus in soybean meal fed to young anemic pigs.
Phytate, a component of seeds and grains, is an antinutrient that can bind
to iron and disrupt the bodys ability to absorb iron. In the study, the
enzyme degraded the phytate in the diet so the piglets absorbed and used more
iron for making hemoglobin.
The research is part of the teams effort to develop novel phytases to
improve mineral nutrition of animals and reduce environmental pollution.
In experiments with 32 anemic piglets, the team found that animals fed
dietary phytase had increased concentrations of hemoglobin, compared to those
given feed without the enzyme. Also, hemoglobin concentrations in the
phytase-supplemented pigs were similar to those in pigs fed supplemental iron.
Hemoglobin, the main component of red blood cells, is a vital protein that
carries oxygen from the lungs to the bodys tissues. Iron, an essential
component of hemoglobin, is derived from food and by recycling iron from old
red blood cells. One cause of iron deficiency is poor absorption of iron by the
Understanding the factors that improve and promote iron absorption should
lead to better use of dietary iron.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.