Flow field–flow fractionation–inductively coupled optical emission spectrometric investigation of the size-based distribution of iron complexed to phytic and tannic acids in a food suspension: implications for iron availability
Flow field–flow fractionation–inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (FlFFF–ICP–OES) was applied to achieve the size-based fractionation of iron in a food suspension in order to gain insights into iron availability. The binding of iron with phytic and tannic acids, employed as model inhibitors of iron availability in foods, was investigated at pH 2.0 (representing stomach fluid), pH 5.0 (the transition stage in the upper part of the duodenum), and pH 7.0 (the small intestine). In the presence of phytic acid, iron was found as a free ion or it was associated with molecules smaller than 1 kDa at pH 2.0. Iron associated with molecules larger than 1 kDa when the pH of the mixture was raised to 5.0 and 7.0. In the presence of tannic acid, iron was again mostly associated with molecules smaller than 1 kDa at pH 2.0. However, at pH 5.0, iron and tannic acid associated in large molecules (∼25 kDa), while at pH 7.0, most of the iron was associated with macromolecules larger than 500 kDa. Iron size-based distributions of kale extract and tea infusion containing phytic and tannic acids, respectively, were also examined at the three pH values, with and without enzymatic digestion. Without enzymatic digestion of the kale extract and the tea infusion at pH 2.0, most of the iron was released as free ions or associated with molecules smaller than 1 kDa. At other pH values, most of the iron in the kale extract and the tea infusion was found to bind with ~2 kDa and >500 kDa macromolecules, respectively. Upon enzymatic gastrointestinal digestion, the iron was not observed to bind to macromolecules >1 kDa but <500 kDa, due to the enzymatic breakdown of large molecules to smaller ones (<1 kDa).