Iron fortification with special reference to the role of iron EDTA.Arch Latinoam Nutr. 1999 Sep; 49(3 Suppl 2):23S-33S.AL
Iron fortification has been used for decades in a number of industrialized countries to combat iron deficiency and seems to have played a significant role in reducing its prevalence, especially in infants and women. The overall strategy has been one in which staples such as wheat, flour, have been fortified with iron. While the effects appear to have been positive, there are still problems not yet completely resolved. In this context, the selection of the fortificant always represents a compromise between a choice of chemically reactive compounds of high bioavailability, such as ferrous sulfate, and inert compounds, which are poorly absorbed. Ferrous sulfate is very effective when added during the preparation of bread and bakery products and infant formulas, but cannot be used in stores flour because of organoleptic problems and inert compounds, such as elemental iron powders, have to be used. The search, therefore, continues for compounds of high bioavailability which do not cause organoleptic changes in the vehicles to which they are added. Problems associated with effective iron fortification programmes are compounded in a number of developing countries by a variety of factors. Most potential vehicles are not centrally processed, inhibitory ligands in staple cereal diets depress the absorption of both intrinsic and fortification iron, anemia is often of multifactorial in etiology, financial resources are scanty and governmental support sometimes lacking. Despite such difficulties there are encouraging signs of progress in a number of countries, using a variety of fortificants and vehicles. In the present review particular attention is paid to the potential role of NaFeEDTA as a fortificant in developing countries. It is much less affected by the inhibitors of iron absorption present in diets of low bioavailability, it can be added to a number of vehicles without causing organoleptic problems and its efficacy has been underlined in three intervention studies.