The Journal of nutrition

Phytic acid-to-iron molar ratio rather than polyphenol concentration determines iron bioavailability in whole-cowpea meal among young women.

PMID 22990464


Limited data exist on iron absorption from NaFeEDTA and FeSO(4) in legume-based flours. The current study compared iron absorption from NaFeEDTA and FeSO(4) as fortificants within and between red and white varieties of cowpea with different concentrations of polyphenols (PP) but similar phytic acid (PA)-to-iron molar ratios. We performed a paired crossover study in young women (n = 16). Red-cowpea (high-PP) and white-cowpea (low-PP) test meals (Tubani) were each fortified with ((57)Fe)-labeled NaFeEDTA or ((58)Fe)-labeled FeSO(4) and were randomly administered. Iron absorption was measured as erythrocyte incorporation of stable iron isotopes. Per serving, the mean (±SD) PP concentrations of the white- and red-cowpea-based meals were 74 ± 3.6 and 158 ± 1.8 mg, respectively, and the molar ratio of PA to iron was 3.0 and 3.3. Iron bioavailabilities from red and white cowpeas were 1.4 and 1.7%, respectively, in NaFeEDTA-fortified meals and 0.89 and 1.2%, respectively, in FeSO(4)-fortified meals. Compared with FeSO(4), fortification with NaFeEDTA increased the amount of iron absorbed from either of the cowpea meals by 0.05 to 0.08 mg (P < 0.05). Irrespective of the fortificant used, there was no significant difference in the amount of iron absorbed from the 2 varieties of cowpea. The results suggest that NaFeEDTA is more bioavailable in legume-based flours compared with FeSO(4). In cowpea-based flours, the major determinant of low iron absorption may be the high molar ratio of PA to iron and not variations in PP concentration.