The Effects of Ascorbic Acid Supplementation on the Absorption of Iron in Maize, Wheat and Soya

M. H. Sayers, S. R. Lynch, P. Jacobs, R. W. Charlton, T. H. Bothwell, R. B. Walker, F. Mayet

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89 Scopus citations


The absorption of iron from three staple vegetables was measured by the red cell utilization method in iron deficient subjects. The food iron had been labelled with 55Fe by the hydroponic cultivation method. In addition, 59Fe was added with or without carrier iron in the form of ferric ammonium citrate, prior to cooking. The constant relationship reported by others between the absorption of the two isotopes was confirmed, suggesting that the extrinsic iron and the food iron were absorbed from a common pool. The addition of ascorbic acid to maize porridge before cooking significantly enhanced the absorption of both the intrinsic and the added iron. However, no effect was noted with soya biscuits or with whole wheat bread (100% extraction). Evidence was obtained that these differences were due to the oxidative destruction of the ascorbic acid by the high temperatures required for baking. If, therefore, a feasible method were found for supplementing vegetable foodstuffs with ascorbic acid and inorganic iron, nutritional benefit would only be anticipated with uncooked or boiled foods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-218
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1973

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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