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Low iron bioavailability, low heme iron, and poor nutrient density in diets of children of low-income families residing in Hartford, CT

Low iron bioavailability, low heme iron, and poor nutrient density in diets of children of low-income families residing in Hartford, CT

FASEB Journal 17(4-5): Abstract No. 445-3

Previous research in low-income children (1-3 years old) residing in Hartford, CT indicated a 33% occurrence of anemia. This study identified the contribution of heme (H) and non-heme (NH) iron (Fe) and bioavailability of Fe consumed (Reddy et al., 2001). Review of 24-hr diet recalls for 94 children (320 meals, 136 snacks) was analyzed (NDS-R 4.05_33, Minneapolis, MN). No difference exists in the amount of Fe consumed between meals (p=.221) or between snacks (p=.763); however, less Fe is consumed from snacks than meals (p<.001). Breakfast cereals account for 7 of the 10 highest meal Fe intakes and 31% of total NH Fe intake. 85% of children reportedly consumed more than the RDA for energy (median=1743 kcals, SD+/-607) and 75% consumed more than the RDA for Fe (median=13 gms, SD+/-9.9) per day. Heme Fe accounts for only 3.4% of Fe consumed. Mean NH Fe bioavailability is 7.4% (SD+/-2.8%) for an overall H and NH iron bioavailability of 8.1% (SD+/-3.1%). Density of Fe consumed (Bioavailable iron consumed mg/kcal/day) is .00059 mg/kcal (SD+/-.00035). To meet the RDA for energy and Fe a child must consume .00098 mg/kcal. Only 10% of this sample would meet the RDA for Fe if caloric intake is adjusted to recommended levels. The intakes of this sample differ markedly from current nutrition guidelines for children that are based on 18% Fe bioavailability and 11% heme Fe contribution. Funded by USDA/ERS.

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