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Open Access Effect of fortification of drinking water with iron plus ascorbic acid or with ascorbic acid alone on hemoglobin values and anthropometric indicators in preschool children in day-care centers in Southeast Brazil

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Background. Iron-deficiency anemia currently is the most frequently occurring nutritional disorder worldwide. Previous Brazilian studies have demonstrated that drinking water fortified with iron and ascorbic acid is an adequate vehicle for improving the iron supply for children frequenting day-care centers.

Objective. The objective of this study was to clarify the role of ascorbic acid as a vehicle for improving iron intake in children in day-care centers in Brazil.

Methods. A six-month study was conducted on 150 children frequenting six day-care centers divided into two groups of three day-care centers by drawing lots: the iron-C group (3 day-care centers, n = 74), which used water fortified with 10 mg elemental iron and 100 mg ascorbic acid per liter, and the comparison group (3 day-care centers, n = 76), which used water containing only 100 mg ascorbic acid per liter. Anthropometric measurements and determinations of capillary hemoglobin were performed at the beginning of the study and after six months of intervention. The food offered at the day-care centers was also analyzed.

Results. The food offered at the day-care center was found to be deficient in ascorbic acid, poor in heme iron, and adequate in non-heme iron. Supplementation with fortified drinking water resulted in a decrease in the prevalence of anemia and an increase in mean hemoglobin levels associated with height gain in both groups.

Conclusions. Fortification of drinking water with iron has previously demonstrated effectiveness in increasing iron supplies. This simple strategy was confirmed in the present study. The present study also demonstrated that for populations receiving an abundant supply of nonheme iron, it is possible to control anemia in a simple, safe, and inexpensive manner by adding ascorbic acid to drinking water.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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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