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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Yeung, Chikong Vincent
item Miller, Dennis
item Hurrell, Richard
item Lynch, Sean
item Bothwell, Thomas
item Cori, Hector
item Hertrampf, Eva
item Kratky, Zdenek
item Rodenstein, Mario
item Glahn, Raymond

Submitted to: International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2004
Publication Date: 12/1/2004
Citation: Yeung, C., Miller, D., Hurrell, R.F., Lynch, S., Bothwell, T., Cori, H., Hertrampf, E., Kratky, Z., Rodenstein, M., Glahn, R.P. 2004. Enhancing the absorption of fortification iron: a sustain task force report. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 74:387-401.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Iron deficiency remains a major global health problem affecting an estimated 2 billion people. An important factor in its causation is the poor bioavailability of iron in the cereal based diets of many developing countries. This paper summarizes the findings of a Task Force, organized by SUSTAIN, consisting of nutritional, medical, industry and government experts, to consider strategies for enhancing the absorption of fortification iron. Highly soluble compounds of iron like ferrous sulfate are desirable but often cannot be used because of sensory issues; therefore, potentially less well-absorbed forms of iron commonly are used in food fortification. The bioavailability of iron fortificants can, however, be enhanced with innovative ingredient technologies. Ascorbic acid, NaFeEDTA, ferrous bisglycinate, and dephytinization all enhance the absorption of fortification iron, but add to the overall costs of fortification. While all strategies cannot be recommended for all food fortification vehicles, individual strategies can be recommended for specific foods. For example, the addition of ascorbic acid is appropriate for dry blended foods such as infant foods and other dry products made for reconstitution that are packaged, stored and prepared in a way that maximizes retention of this vitamin. NaFeEDTA can be recommended for fortification of fish sauce and soy sauce, whereas amino acid chelates may be more useful in milk products and beverages. With further development, dephytinization may be possible for low cost cereal-based complementary foods in developing countries. Encapsulation of iron salts in lipid coatings, while not an iron absorption-enhancing strategy per se, can prevent soluble forms of iron from interacting undesirably with some food vehicles and hence broaden the application of some fortificants.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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