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Kiwifruit boosts iron levels

11 Oct, 2010

Source: Massey University

Gold kiwifruit can help boost a person’s iron levels according to new research from Massey University.

The research found that high levels of carotenoids – the yellow, orange and red pigments in plants – and vitamin C in gold kiwifruit can help people absorb iron from their normal diet.

Regular eating of gold kiwifruit with meals that also contain iron could help people better manage their energy and iron levels, Massey researcher Dr Cath Conlon says.

"This is the first study of its type to investigate whether a vitamin C rich food was able to improve iron status in women with low iron stores."

"While this study has been conducted with women who have low iron stores, it is realistic to expect that others who are at risk of iron deficiency would also benefit."

A Zespri spokeswoman says that while the study only investigated the iron-uptake properties in gold kiwifruit - which typically had more vitamin C - "there is every reason to expect a similar response from green kiwifruit".

The research findings published in the British Journal of Nutrition were important because iron deficiency is the main micronutrient deficiency, thought to affect more than 1.6 billion people worldwide, and is the most common cause of anaemia.

Iron deficiency means less oxygen is delivered to the cells, which leads to fatigue, tiredness and decreased ability to fight germs.

People at highest risk of iron deficiency and anaemia include: preschool children; pregnant, breast feeding and pre-menopausal women; and athletes.

The study was carried out on 89 healthy women aged up to 44 with low iron stores, who were fed an iron-fortified breakfast cereal and milk with either 2 gold kiwifruit or a banana – known to have low levels of vitamin C – for breakfast every day for 16 weeks.

Iron levels lifted in the blood of the women who ate the kiwifruit, compared with the women who ate the bananas.

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