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Nutrition. 2007 Apr;23(4):292-5. Epub 2007 Mar 13.

New insights about iron bioavailability inhibition by zinc.

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  • 1Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile. <>



We measured the effects of lower and higher doses of zinc (Zn) given as an aqueous solution on the bioavailability of iron (Fe).


Fourteen healthy subjects received a solution with 0.5 mg of elemental Fe as ferrous sulfate given alone or with 0.59 mg of Zn as zinc sulfate (molar ratio Zn:Fe 1:1). Fourteen days after they received a second solution with 10 mg of Fe given alone or with 11.71 mg of Zn (molar ratio Zn:Fe 1:1). Iron bioavailability was assessed by erythrocyte incorporation of iron radioisotopes (55)Fe and (59)Fe.


No significant effect of Zn on Fe bioavailability was observed at lower doses; however, at higher doses Fe bioavailability was inhibited by 56% (P < 0.001, repeated measures analysis of variance).


The inhibitory effect of Zn on Fe bioavailability depends on the total amount of both minerals present in the intestinal lumen. This fact should be considered when designing a supplementation program if Fe and Zn are to be provided together.

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