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Advantages and disadvantages of an iron-rich diet


Background and objective: A review by invitation about advantages and disadvantages of an iron-rich diet by analyzing physiological iron requirements, dietary factors influencing iron absorption and the regulatory systems available to control iron absorption according to needs.

Results: The control to prevent iron deficiency is good but not perfect, as observed in previously described studies on relationships between individual iron requirements and the probability of iron deficiency developing in relation to diet. The control to prevent iron overload seems to be perfect except in the few subjects being homozygotes for hereditary hemochromatosis.

Conclusions: A diet rich in easily available iron is important for covering basal iron losses, menstrual iron losses and the high iron requirements for growth from infancy to adolescence and for pregnancy.

Sponsorship: The Swedish Medical Research Council (project B96-19X-04721-21A), The Swedish Council for Forestry and Agriculture (50.0120/95 and 997/881, 113:3), The Swedish Dairy Association, and the Danone International Prize for Nutrition 1999.

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Hallberg, L. Advantages and disadvantages of an iron-rich diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 56 (Suppl 1), S12–S18 (2002).

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