Single-meal studies have indicated that calcium inhibits iron absorption in humans. However, numerous dietary factors influence iron absorption, and the effect of calcium may not be as pronounced when calcium is served as part of a whole diet.
We investigated the effect of 3 sources of calcium served with the 3 main meals on nonheme-iron absorption from a 4-d diet.
(59)Fe absorption was estimated from whole-body retention measurements in 14 women aged 21-34 y, each of whom consumed four 4-d diets in a randomized crossover design. The diets differed in the source of calcium as follows: a basic diet (BD) with a low content of calcium (224 mg Ca/d), a BD with a glass of milk served at each meal (826 mg Ca/d), a BD with calcium lactate (802 mg Ca/d), and a BD with a milk mineral isolate containing calcium (801 mg Ca/d). The 2 latter calcium sources were added to selected foods of the BD (rye bread, white bread, chocolate cake, and orange juice), and these foods were consumed with the 3 meals. All diets provided 13.2 mg Fe/d.
No significant differences in nonheme-iron absorption were found between the BD and the BD supplemented with milk, calcium lactate, or the milk mineral isolate [7.4% (95% CI: 5.3%, 10.5%), 5.2% (3.5%, 7.9%), 6.7% (5.0%, 8.9%), and 5.1% (3.2%, 7.9%), respectively; P = 0.34].
Consumption of a glass of milk with the 3 main meals or of an equivalent amount of calcium from fortified foods does not decrease nonheme-iron absorption from a 4-d diet.