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Sci Adv. 2019 Mar 27;5(3):eaau0790. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aau0790. eCollection 2019 Mar.

Micronutrient-fortified rice can be a significant source of dietary bioavailable iron in schoolchildren from rural Ghana.

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Laboratory for Human Nutrition, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, ETH Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Community Nutrition, School of Allied Health Sciences, University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana.


Iron deficiency and anemia are prominent contributors to the preventable disease burden worldwide. A substantial proportion of people with inadequate dietary iron rely on rice as a staple food, but fortification efforts are limited by low iron bioavailability. Furthermore, using high iron fortification dosages may not always be prudent in tropical regions. To identify alternative fortification formulations with enhanced absorption, we screened different iron compounds for their suitability as rice fortificants, measured in vitro gastric solubility, and assessed dietary iron bioavailability using stable isotopic labels in rural Ghanaian children. Isotopic incorporation in red blood cells indicates that in the two age groups of children investigated (4 to 6 and 7 to 10 years), formulations provided 36 and 51% of the median daily requirement in absorbed iron, respectively. We describe approaches to enhancing iron bioavailability from fortified rice, which can substantially contribute to the prevention of iron deficiency in rice-eating populations.

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