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Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1999 Sep;49(3 Suppl 2):15S-22S.

Iron supplementation as a strategy for the control of iron deficiency and ferropenic anemia.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of California at Berkeley, USA.


Iron supplementation is a public health strategy designed for the prevention of iron deficiency and its consecutive anemia. It should be targeted, safe, flexible, long term and ideally, community based under the supervision of the health sector. It must be differentiated from iron therapy, even though, in the intermediate and long term it corrects mild-moderate deficiency of iron and ferropenic anemia. It should complement other measures for the control of iron deficiency. A summary of results comparing daily and intermittent iron supplementation (every 3-days in rats, and weekly in humans) is presented, including studies in an animal model, human supplementary-iron absorption studies, clinical research and field studies. It is concluded that intermittent iron supplementation is efficacious and, that in the long term it achieves an increase in iron reserves while avoiding sustained oxidative stress caused by current practices of excess daily iron supplementation, particularly in the developing world. The stage is set for long-term weekly iron supplementation programs in large population groups to determine its sustainability and effectiveness.

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