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Biomed Environ Sci. 1996 Sep;9(2-3):341-7.

The effectiveness of weekly iron supplementation regimen in improving the iron status of Chinese children and pregnant women.

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Tianjin Institute of Child Health, China.


It is evident that intermittent iron supplementation is better than daily supplementation in two aspects: iron absorption is more efficient and has insignificant side effects in contrast to the daily dose. The significantly higher daily iron loss observed in the daily iron supplemented groups rats also suggests alterations in total body iron metabolism. Based on serum ferritin distribution patterns, intermittent iron supplementation avoids temporary iron overload with daily iron supplemented. We conclude that weekly iron supplementation scheme is safer and easier to administer. This feasible strategy for the control of iron deficient anemia in pregnant women and children would be an effective iron-supplementation program (Baily et al., 1993).


Most governmental programs to control widespread iron deficiency in the developing world involve providing daily supplements of iron to all children and pregnant women. This approach has generally poor results due in part to dose-related undesirable gastrointestinal side effects and the lack of effective absorption and retention of iron consumed on a daily basis. However, recent evidence indicates that iron is absorbed significantly better when consumed only at intervals coinciding with gut mucosal renewals. That approach also prevents constant high iron concentrations in the gut which may cause undesirable side effects. Much lower iron doses administered intermittently are as effective in correcting iron nutrition and safer than daily doses in iron deficient anemic rats. 246 healthy 3-6 year olds and 405 pregnant women were enrolled in two studies to determine whether intermittent iron supplementation in humans is more efficient than daily iron administration. Weekly iron supplementation proved to be better than daily supplementation, producing more efficient iron absorption with fewer side effects. Serum ferritin distribution patterns indicate that intermittent iron supplementation avoids the iron overload which results from daily iron supplemented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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