Iron Deficiency Increases Likelihood Of Bone Fractures

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A new study at Ohio State University suggests that even mild iron deficiency may weaken bones and make them more likely to break.

The findings may soon call for a change in the diets of children, teenagers, and pregnant women -- all of whom have a high rate of iron deficiency in the United States.

Denis Medeiros, professor of human nutrition at Ohio State, led the study, which appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine. Medeiros and his fellow researchers found that laboratory rats who were fed an iron-deficient diet showed evidence of weakened femur bones.

“This is despite the fact that the rats’ diets only resulted in minor iron deficiency, similar to that among humans,” said Medeiros. “And given the fact that iron deficiency anemia is so common, it’s remarkable that nobody examined the connection between iron and healthy bones before.”

The researchers fed some laboratory rats a healthy diet, while other rats ate a diet deficient in either iron or copper. X-rays of the rats’ legs revealed that the femurs of those with iron or copper deficiency each contained a pocket with lower bone density than normal. In tests, the femurs of the rats that were deficient in iron and copper were approximately 28 percent more likely to break than those of the rats on the healthy diet. The bones were tested after the rats were sacrificed.

According to Medeiros, the weakness in the bones of the iron-deficient rats is most important, since humans rarely have diets deficient in copper. Iron deficiency is quite common, but people are more likely to think they need calcium or vitamin C for healthy bones.

“We know that vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, and we know that calcium deficiency leads to osteoporosis, but if we j

Contact: Denis Medeiros
(614) 292-5575
Ohio State University

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