Different type of iron supplement is better at boosting iron levels

Fortifying cereals with a different type of iron supplement reduces anaemia, iron-deficiency anaemia and general iron deficiency children in developing countries, and boosts three major iron status indicators, conclude authors of an Article published in this weeks edition of The Lancet.

Sodium Iron EDTA (NaFeEDTA) was found to be much more effective than electrolytic iron, despite the electrolytic form being the most frequently used iron supplement in flour.

Pauline Andango, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Centre for Public Health Research, Nairobi, Kenya and Netherlands-based colleagues studied 516 children aged three to eight years from four schools in Marafa, Kenya, some 10% of whom were suffering from anaemia.

Anaemia is defined as a shortage of red blood cells and/or haemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying iron complex) in the blood one cause of which is iron deficiency.

The authors say: "Fortification of staple cereal flours could be a cost-effective, sustainable way to improve iron status in developing countries."

The children in the study were divided into four groups and each given the same amount of porridge daily, five times a week. The placebo group had porridge made with unfortified whole maize flour. For the other three groups the porridge was fortified with either high-dose NaFeEDTA (56mg/kg), low-dose NaFeEDTA (28mg/kg) or electrolytic iron (56mg/kg).

The researchers found that, compared to the placebo group, the prevalence of iron-deficiency anaemia dropped by 89% for the high-dose NaFeEDTA group, and by 48% for the low-dose NaFeEDTA group, but there was no evidence for any reduction in the electrolytic iron group.

High-dose NaFeEDTA fortified flour also improved three major iron status indicators in the children taking flour fortified with it haemoglobin and plasma ferritin concentrations, and amounts of plasma soluble transferrin receptor. Low-dose NaFeEDTA also improved these

Contact: Pauline Andango

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