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).
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
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
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
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
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).
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
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.
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
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
||Carbonyl Iron Powder MS (microspheres)
||H-Reduced Super fine/ dust
||Spherical Iron (Free flow, low dust)
||H-Reduced iron powder (easy flow)
||Atomized Steel (easy flow)
||Ferrous sulfate. 7H20
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
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
managers. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2001 (WHO/NHD/01.3).
2. Rosales FJ et al. Iron deficiency in young rats alters the distribution of
between plasma and liver and between hepatic retinol and retinyl esters. Journal
Nutrition, 1999, 129:1223–1228.
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
Baltussen R, Knai C,
J Nutr. 2004 Oct;134(10):2678-84.
[PubMed - indexed for