Comparison of the efficacy of wheat-based snacks fortified with ferrous sulfate, electrolytic iron, or hydrogen-reduced elemental iron: randomized, double-blind, controlled trial in Thai women

Michael B Zimmermann, Pattanee Winichagoon, Sueppong Gowachirapant, Sonja Y Hess, Mary Harrington, Visith Chavasit, Sean R Lynch, Richard F Hurrell
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005, 82 (6): 1276-82

BACKGROUND: Although elemental iron powders are widely used to fortify cereal products, little data exist on their efficacy in humans.

OBJECTIVE: We compared the efficacy of wheat-based snacks fortified with ferrous sulfate, electrolytic iron, or hydrogen-reduced iron in Thai women with low iron stores.

DESIGN: A double-blind intervention was conducted in 18-50-y-old women (n = 330) randomly assigned into 4 groups to receive either no fortification iron or 12 mg Fe/d for 6 d/wk for 35 wk as ferrous sulfate, electrolytic iron, or hydrogen-reduced iron in a baked, wheat-flour-based snack. Snacks were not consumed with meals, and consumption was monitored. At baseline, 20 wk, and 35 wk, hemoglobin status and iron were measured and the groups were compared.

RESULTS: Between baseline and 35 wk, geometric mean serum ferritin (SF) increased significantly in all 3 groups receiving iron (P < 0.01), and geometric mean serum transferrin receptor (TfR) decreased significantly in the groups receiving ferrous sulfate and electrolytic iron (P < 0.05). Calculated mean (+/-SD) body iron stores increased from 1.5 +/- 2.8 to 5.4 +/- 2.9 mg/kg in the ferrous sulfate group, from 1.5 +/- 3.5 to 4.4 +/- 3.6 mg/kg in the electrolytic iron group, and from 1.3 +/- 3.2 to 3.2 +/- 4.3 mg/kg in the hydrogen-reduced iron group (P < 0.01 for all 3 groups) but did not change significantly in the control group.

CONCLUSIONS: Ferrous sulfate, electrolytic iron, and hydrogen-reduced iron, fortified into wheat-based snacks, significantly improved iron status. On the basis of the change in body iron stores during the 35-wk study, the relative efficacy of the electrolytic and hydrogen-reduced iron compared with ferrous sulfate was 77% and 49%, respectively.

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