Skip to main content

Measuring iron and zinc bioavailability in humans

The full text article is not available for purchase.

The publisher only permits individual articles to be downloaded by subscribers.


Iron and zinc deficiencies are common in populations dependent on cereal-based diets because of the poor bioavailability of these minerals in those foods. Selective breeding of high-mineral grains can improve the total intake of iron and zinc. However, the additional iron and zinc from those grains may not be available for absorption because of the high phytate content of cereals. Iron and zinc bioavailability needs to be measured before the high-mineral crops are promoted. Iron or zinc bioavailability can be measured from the response of a physiological variable, assessment of body retention, tissue or blood uptake, changes in pool size, or rates of absorption. Iron bioavailability is preferentially measured from erythrocyte uptake of oral radioactive or stable iron tracers; zinc bioavailability is measured from the rate of absorption of an oral isotopic tracer compared with an intravenous tracer. The oral label, which is required for studies of both iron and zinc, may be intrinsically added to the plant during growth or extrinsically added before feeding. Iron and zinc bioavailability from intrinsically and extrinsically labelled normal and high-mineral common bean varieties was tested in young women with low iron stores. The absorption of intrinsic and extrinsic labels of iron and zinc did not differ. The bioavailability of iron and zinc from both varieties was low, about 1.5% and 13%, respectively. Methods to improve the bioavailability of iron and zinc from plant foods need to be developed.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 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

  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Rights and Permissions
  • ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites

Access Key

Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
ingentaconnect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more