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Initial uptake and absorption of nonheme iron and absorption of heme iron in humans are unaffected by the addition of calcium as cheese to a meal with high iron bioavailability

Roughead, Zamzam, K., Zito, Carol A., Hunt, Janet R.
American journal of clinical nutrition 2002 v.76 no.2 pp. 419
dietary minerals, dietary nutrient sources, cheeses, fortified foods, mineral content, calcium, iron, nutrient intake, food conversion, iron absorption, nutrient uptake, heme iron, serosa, humans, erythrocytes
Background: Quantitative data on the mucosal uptake and serosal transfer of nonheme-iron absorption in humans and the effects of calcium on these components are limited. Objective: Our objective was to measure the initial mucosal uptake and the subsequent serosal transfer of nonheme iron and to determine the effects of adding calcium to a meal on both heme- and nonheme-iron retention. Design: Whole-gut lavage and whole-body scintillation counting methods were applied to determine the 8-h uptake of nonheme iron and the 2-wk retention (absorption) of heme and nonheme iron in healthy adults (n = 17) after the consumption of meals of radiolabeled food. Results: The initial uptake and absorption of nonheme iron were 11% and 7%, respectively, and the absorption of heme iron was 15%. Two-thirds of the nonheme iron taken up by the mucosa within 8 h was retained by the body after 2 wk (serosal transfer index: 0.63). Serum ferritin correlated inversely with the initial uptake and absorption of nonheme iron, but not with the nonheme serosal transfer index or the absorption of heme iron. Adding calcium (127 mg in cheese) to the meal did not affect absorption. Conclusions: On the basis of its association with serum ferritin, the initial mucosal uptake was the primary control point for nonheme-iron absorption. An apparent reduction in heme-iron absorption associated with the lavage procedure suggested that uptake of heme iron may take longer and proceed further through the intestine than that of nonheme iron. The absorption of both forms of iron was unaffected by the addition of cheese to this meal with high iron bioavailability.