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J Nutr. 2006 Dec;136(12):3033-8.

Supplemental dietary inulin affects the bioavailability of iron in corn and soybean meal to young pigs.

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  • 1Department of Animal Science, U.S. Plant, Soil, and Nutrition Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Iron deficiency represents one of the most common global nutritional disorders in humans. Our objective was to determine whether and how supplemental inulin improved utilization of iron intrinsically present in a corn and soybean meal diet by young pigs for hemoglobin repletion. In Expt. 1, 3 groups (n = 8/group) of pigs were fed a corn and soybean meal-based diet (BD, without inorganic iron addition) or BD + 2 or 4% inulin (Synergy 1: a mixture of oligofructose and long-chain inulin HP, Orafti) for 5 wk. Final blood hemoglobin concentrations and the overall hemoglobin repletion efficiency of pigs were positively (r = 0.55 and 0.69, P < 0.01) correlated with dietary inulin concentrations. Compared with pigs fed the BD, those fed 4% inulin demonstrated a 28% improvement (P < 0.01) in hemoglobin repletion efficiency and 15% (P < 0.01) improvement in the final blood hemoglobin concentration. In Expt. 2, 12 weanling pigs (n = 6/group) were fed the BD or the BD + 4% inulin for 6 wk. Pigs fed 4% inulin had higher (P < 0.05) soluble Fe concentrations in the digesta of the proximal, mid, and distal colon, and lower (P < 0.05) sulfide concentrations in the digesta of the distal colon. Supplemental inulin had virtually no effect on pH or phytase activity of digesta from any of the tested segments. In conclusion, supplementing 4% inulin improved utilization of intrinsic iron in the corn and soybean meal diet by young pigs, and this benefit was associated with soluble Fe and sulfide concentrations but not pH or phytase activity in the digesta.

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