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Iron Powder for Iron Fortification
(Food Grade Iron Powder)

Iron fortification is adding iron compounds to food products in order to increase iron (as one of the most important micro nutrients) in food. Food grade iron powders are different grades of iron powder which are suitable for food contact or for use as an iron fortificant (food additive containing any bio-available iron nutrient).

Iron deficiency and anemia

Most of the iron in the human body is present in the erythrocytes as hemoglobin,
where its main function is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Iron is also an important component of various enzyme systems, such as the
cytochromes, which are involved in oxidative metabolism. It is stored in the liver
as ferritin and as hemosiderin.
Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder
in the world, and is a public health problem in both industrialized and non-industrialized countries. Iron deficiency is the result of a long-term negative iron
balance; in its more severe stages, iron deficiency causes anemia. Anemia is
defined as a low blood hemoglobin concentration. Hemoglobin cut-off values
that indicate anemia vary with physiological status (e.g. age, sex) and have been
defined for various population groups. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are approximately one billion cases of iron deficiency anemia and one billion cases of iron deficiency without anemia worldwide. (1).

Improving iron status may have other, but as yet poorly appreciated, benefits
for health, most noticeably with respect to the utilization of vitamin A and iodine.
That vitamin A (retinol) is mobilized from the liver by an iron-dependent
enzyme is well-established fact, but more recently, experimental studies have
suggested that in cases of iron deficiency the vitamin is trapped in the liver
and thus may be less accessible to other tissues and organs (2).

Choice of iron fortificant

Technically, iron is the most challenging micronutrient to add to foods, because
the iron compounds that have the best bioavailability tend to be those that interact
most strongly with food constituents to produce undesirable organoleptic
changes. When selecting a suitable iron compound as a food fortificant, the
overall objective is to find the one that has the greatest absorbability, i.e. the
highest relative bioavailability1 (RBV) compared with ferrous sulfate, yet at
the same time does not cause unacceptable changes to the sensory properties
(i.e. taste, color, texture) of the food vehicle. Cost is usually another important

Elemental iron powders are often used to fortify cereals and some other dry foods, but the bioavailabilities of the different forms of elemental iron is very dependent on the size, shape and surface area of the iron particles. (characteristics which are governed by the manufacturing process), as well as the composition of the meals in which it is consumed. The relative bioavailability of some common iron powders are shown below.

Product Code Product Description Iron% RBVA BioavailabilityB
CIPMS Carbonyl Iron Powder MS (microspheres) 99+ 20 Medium
IRON325 H-Reduced Super fine/ dust 97+ 50 High C
IRON195SP Spherical Iron (Free flow, low dust) 99+ 24 Medium
IRON100 H-Reduced iron powder (easy flow) 99+ 50 High C
S1001 Atomized Steel (easy flow) 99+ 8 Low
FS16H Ferrous sulfate. 7H20 20 100 high

A: Relative bioavailability or Relative Biological Value (RBV) is estimated based on published reports and adjusted based on the particle size and shape. For example the bioavailability of H-Reduced iron powder is reported to be 13% up to 148%. In the above table we have estimated 50%. Some data may be based on experiments performed on rats.

B: The comparison column of Bioavailability is an estimate provided for your convenience. It is ultimately the responsibility of the user or manufacturer to perform necessary tests and determine the applicability of the product or the information provided in this page.

C: IRON325 and IRON100 have high surface area compared to other elemental irons, thus a high dissolution rate. Surface area and dissolution rate, are both highly predictive of RBV.

1. Iron deficiency anemia: assessment, prevention, and control. A guide for program
managers. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2001 (WHO/NHD/01.3).

2. Rosales FJ et al. Iron deficiency in young rats alters the distribution of vitamin A
between plasma and liver and between hepatic retinol and retinyl esters. Journal of
Nutrition, 1999, 129:12231228.

World Health Organization

Guidelines for iron fortification of cereal food staples. Washington, DC, Sharing United States Technology to Aid in the Improvement of Nutrition, 2001.

Iron fortification and iron supplementation are cost-effective interventions to reduce iron deficiency in four subregions of the world.

Baltussen R, Knai C, Sharan M.
J Nutr
. 2004 Oct;134(10):2678-84. Review.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]



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