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Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2012 Mar;63(2):199-207. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2011.618119. Epub 2011 Sep 26.

Can an iron-rich staple food help women to achieve dietary targets in pregnancy?

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Hollings Faculty, Centre of Food, Nutrition and Health Research, Manchester Metropolitan University, Old Hall Lane, Manchester M14 6HR, UK.


Habitual iron intakes during pregnancy are typically lower than dietary guidelines, a risk for iron deficiency. The aim of this study was to determine whether regular consumption of bread naturally rich in iron could help women to achieve dietary targets. Thirty-three primiparous mothers were randomized to eat 3-4 slices of iron-rich or control bread daily for 6 weeks. Two 24-h-prompted (multiple-pass) dietary recalls were completed, and validated algorithms were used to determine the amount of 'available iron' from the diet. Regular consumption of iron-rich bread helped pregnant women to achieve UK dietary recommendations; the quantity of bread consumed by the participants contributed 27% versus 9% UK Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) (14.8 mg/d) in the intervention versus the control group. Levels of total 'available iron' were similar in both groups and correlated positively with total dietary iron (r = 0.78, P = 0.0001), vitamin C (r = 0.43, P = 0.017) and non-haem iron (r = 0.77, P = 0.0001). Findings from this study show that iron-rich staple foods can help women reach dietary targets for iron. This is an area of great potential that could be of particular benefit to low-income/ethnically diverse population groups who have some of the lowest iron intakes. Further research using fortified staple foods containing higher levels of iron is now warranted to establish physiological benefits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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