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Br J Nutr. 1990 Sep;64(2):541-6.

Iron absorption from typical West African meals containing contaminating Fe.

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Centre de Recherche sur les Anémies Nutrionnelles, Institut Scientifique et Technique de l'Alimentation, Paris, France.


Iron absorption from three typical West African meals was measured in fourteen subjects using the extrinsic-tag technique with 59Fe and 55Fe. All meals consisted of maize as the staple food. Meals were prepared in Benin under realistic conditions from locally grown foods. Of the non-haem-Fe in the meals 39-73% did not exchange with the added inorganic radio-Fe tracer, depending on the degree of Fe contamination of meals. Non-haem-Fe absorption was low in each maize meal, but was even lower for those eaten with a vegetable sauce than for those eaten with a fish sauce. When haem-Fe absorption was included, 70.0-160 micrograms Fe was absorbed. Expressed on an energy basis, the bioavailable nutrient density was 3.2-7.0 micrograms/100 kJ (13.4-29.5 micrograms/100 kcal). These findings suggest that total Fe available in the typical diets of West African countries does not meet the physiological requirements of large proportions of the population.

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