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New Research Stresses Importance Of Iron Intake

October 9, 2009 by  

New research stresses importance of iron intake In response to the alarm sounded by the World Health Organization,
which estimates some 2 billion people around the world are iron-deficient, scientists in Switzerland have unveiled a new species of rice that has six times more iron than normal.

The work was conducted at ETH, a well-known technical university in Zurich, where researchers have succeeded in increasing the iron content in polished rice by transferring two plant genes into an existing rice variety.

The authors of the study say the prototypes have already been shown to grow normally in the greenhouse conditions without causing any negative effects on the environment, as iron is one of the most abundant metallic elements in soil.

Wilhelm Gruissem, one of the researchers on the team, says the group will now have to test whether the rice plants also perform well in the field.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, difficulty metabolizing harmful substances, and if not remedied may lead to anemia. In addition to iron-enriched foods, nutritional supplements are also a good way to make up for possible deficiency.

The work was published in an online edition of Plant Biotechnology Journal.

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  • Norm

    Most older people don’t need supplemental iron. In fact, they’re better off without it, since too much iron causes oxidative damage in the body.

    But some older people may need it. Poor nutrition is rarely the cause of iron deficiency in adults. It’s more likely to be due to:

    • Malabsorption due to Crohn’s or celiac disease, or intestinal surgery.

    • Regular use of aspirin or other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which can cause gastrointestinal bleeding.

    • Stomach-acid reducing drugs, which inhibit iron absorption.

    • Inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis.

    • Frequent blood draws or recent surgery.

    Iron deficiency can sneak up on you slowly, until you begin to notice symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, even restless legs syndrome, a disorder that causes an uncomfortable feeling in the legs that can only be relieved by movement.

    If you have such symptoms, you’ll need blood tests to determine if you have anemia, and if so, what kind. Your doctor will also try to determine the cause. In addition to iron, it’s a good idea to check folate, B12 and vitamin C levels.


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