Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Sep;53(9):722-5.

A traditional beverage prevents iron deficiency in African women of child bearing age.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.



To determine if a traditional item in the diet might be useful in preventing iron deficiency in African women of child-bearing age.


In a prospective study, the iron status of women who did and did not drink traditional beer high in iron and folic acid, was compared. Iron status was determined by a combination of haemoglobin, serum ferritin and transferrin saturation.


The study was conducted amongst rural villagers in the Murehwa and Zaka districts of Zimbabwe and in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa.


112 women aged between 12 and 50 y from a population of 425 rural people participating in on-going family genetic studies.


Women who consumed traditional beer had significantly higher serum ferritin concentrations and transferrin saturations compared to non-drinkers (P = 0.0001 and 0.03 respectively). Iron deficiency anaemia was not present in drinkers but the prevalence in non-drinkers was 13%. Forty seven percent of the non-drinkers and only 14% of the drinkers had evidence of iron deficiency (P = 0.002). Six (21%) of the drinkers and none of the non-drinkers had evidence of iron overload (transferrin saturation > 55% and serum ferritin > 400 ug/l).


We conclude that the consumption of traditional beer, rich in iron, protects women against iron deficiency. While the use of an alcoholic beverage is not ideal, our findings suggest that indigenous cultural practices might be successfully employed or adapted for promoting iron nutrition.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk