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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jan;79(1):99-102.

Erythorbic acid is a potent enhancer of nonheme-iron absorption.

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1
Institute of Food Science and Nutrition, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Rueschlikon, Switzerland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Erythorbic acid, a stereoisomer of ascorbic acid with similar physicochemical properties, is widely used as an antioxidant in processed foods.

OBJECTIVES:

The aims of the present study were to evaluate the effect of erythorbic acid on iron absorption from ferrous sulfate at molar ratios of 2:1 and 4:1 (relative to iron) and to compare the effect of erythorbic acid directly with that of ascorbic acid at a molar ratio of 4:1.

DESIGN:

Iron absorption from iron-fortified cereal was measured in 10 women on the basis of erythrocyte incorporation of stable iron isotopes ((57)Fe or (58)Fe) 14 d after administration. Each woman consumed 4 ferrous-sulfate-fortified test meals (containing 5 mg Fe/meal) with or without added erythorbic or ascorbic acid. The data were evaluated by use of paired t tests, and the results are presented as geometric means.

RESULTS:

Iron absorption from the test meal without any added enhancer was 4.1%. The addition of erythorbic acid (at molar ratios of 2:1 and 4:1 relative to iron) increased iron absorption 2.6-fold (10.8%; P < 0.0001) and 4.6-fold (18.8%; P < 0.0001), respectively. The addition of ascorbic acid (molar ratio of 4:1) increased iron absorption 2.9-fold (11.7%; P = 0.0004). At a molar ratio of 4:1, erythorbic acid was 1.6-fold (P = 0.0002) as potent an enhancer of iron absorption as was ascorbic acid.

CONCLUSION:

Although erythorbic acid is a potent enhancer of iron absorption, its lack of antiscorbutic activity limits its usefulness in iron-fortification programs. However, it may play a major role in enhancing iron bioavailability from mixed diets that include foods preserved with erythorbic acid.

PMID:
14684404
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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