Open Access Women and sustainable approaches to the management of iron deficiency

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Abstract:

Iron deficiency is the world's most common nutritional disorder and is predominantly responsible for anaemia in human populations. Its management and control involve iron supplementation and fortification of foods and, in developing countries, the control of parasitic infections as well. It is also important to formulate food-based strategies to improve the bioavailability of dietary iron, for example, by promoting culturally acceptable changes in food choices, processing, and preservation. These require sound scientific data from nutritional research and the participation of women scientists who are familiar with the local and sociocultural preferences of the target communities. Research has shown that the major effects of processing on iron availability are associated with the separation, dehulling, and cooking procedures. The magnitude of losses varies with the food type and processing technique. Blanching and homogenization of vegetables may account for up to 28% and 40% of soluble iron loss, respectively. Moreover, the traditional practice of adding kanwa (an alkaline salt) to soften beans and to impart a green colour to vegetables during cooking results in reduced iron availability. In contrast, germination and fermentation have been shown to enhance the availability of iron from foods. Thus, traditional-food processing methods, such as fermentation, should be encouraged, actively promoted, and preserved.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2000

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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