Double-fortified salt is efficacious in improving indicators of iron deficiency in female Indian tea pickers

Jere D Haas, Maike Rahn, Sudha Venkatramanan, Grace S Marquis, Michael J Wenger, Laura E Murray-Kolb, Annie S Wesley, Gregory A Reinhart
Journal of Nutrition 2014, 144 (6): 957-64
Poor iron status affects 50% of Indian women and compromises work productivity, cognitive performance, and reproduction. Among the many strategies to reduce iron deficiency is the commercial fortification of iodized table salt with iron to produce a double-fortified salt (DFS). The objective of this study was to test the efficacy of DFS in reducing iron deficiency in rural women of reproductive age from northern West Bengal, India. The participants were 212 women between 18 and 55 y of age who worked as full-time tea pickers on a large tea estate. Participants in the randomized, controlled, double-blind study were assigned to use either DFS or a control iodized salt for 7.5 to 9 mo. The DFS was fortified with 3.3-mg ferrous fumarate (1.1-mg elemental iron) per kg of iodized salt, whereas the control salt contained only iodine (47 mg/kg potassium iodate), and both salt varieties were distributed gratis to the families of participants at 0.5 kg/mo for each 2 household members. At baseline, 53% of participants were anemic (hemoglobin <120 g/L), 25% were iron deficient (serum ferritin <12 μg/L), and 23% were iron-deficient anemic. Also, 22% had a transferrin receptor concentration >8.6 mg/L and 22% had negative (<0.0 mg/kg) body iron stores. After 9 mo the participants receiving DFS showed significant improvements compared with controls in hemoglobin (+2.4 g/L), ferritin (+0.13 log10 μg/L), soluble transferrin receptor (-0.59 mg/L), and body iron (+1.43 mg/kg), with change in status analyzed by general linear models controlling for baseline values. This study demonstrated that DFS is an efficacious approach to improving iron status and should be further evaluated for effectiveness in the general population. This trial was registered at as NCT01032005.

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