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Does ascorbic acid supplementation affect iron bioavailability in rats fed micronized dispersible ferric pyrophosphate fortified fruit juice?


Background and aims

Food iron (Fe) fortification is an adequate approach for preventing Fe-deficiency anemia. Poorly water-soluble Fe compounds have good sensory attributes but low bioavailability. The reduction of the particle size of Fe fortificants and the addition of ascorbic acid might increase the bioavailability of low-soluble compounds. The present work aims to compare the Fe absorption and bioavailability of micronized dispersible ferric pyrophosphate (MDFP) (poorly soluble) to ferrous sufate (FS) (highly soluble) added to a fruit juice in presence or absence of ascorbic acid (AA) by using the hemoglobin repletion assay in rats.


After a hemoglobin depletion period, four fruit juices comprised of (1) FS, (2) MDFP, (3) FS + AA, (4) MDFP + AA were produced and administered to a different group of rats (n = 18) over 21 days. During the repletion period, Fe balance, hemoglobin regeneration efficiency (HRE), relative bioavailability (RBV) and Fe tissue content were determined in the short, medium and long term.


Fe absorption and bioavailability showed no significant differences between fortifying the fruit juice with FS or MDFP. The addition of AA to the juice enhanced Fe absorption during the long-term balance study within the same Fe source. HRE and Fe utilization increased after AA addition in both FS and MDFP groups in every period.


Fe absorption and bioavailability from MDFP were comparable to FS added to a fruit juice in rats. Further, the addition of AA enhanced Fe absorption in the long term, as well as Fe bioavailability throughout the repletion period regardless of the Fe source employed.

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We are grateful to Hero España S.A. (Murcia, Spain) for providing the samples used in this work and to the Regional Government of Murcia (Consejería de Tecnología, Industria y Comercio) for funding the project INAFIB (Ref. 4I0ISIU09).

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Correspondence to Darío Pérez-Conesa.

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Haro-Vicente, J.F., Pérez-Conesa, D., Rincón, F. et al. Does ascorbic acid supplementation affect iron bioavailability in rats fed micronized dispersible ferric pyrophosphate fortified fruit juice?. Eur J Nutr 47, 470 (2008).

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  • iron bioavailability
  • ascorbic acid
  • ferrous sulfate
  • micronized dispersible ferric pyrophosphate
  • rats