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Milk thistle contains silybin, which is a potential iron chelator. We aimed to determine whether silybin reduced iron absorption in patients with hereditary haemochromatosis. In this crossover study, on three separate occasions, 10 patients who were homozygous for the C282Y mutation in the HFE gene (and fully treated) consumed a vegetarian meal containing 13.9 mg iron with: 200 ml water; 200 ml water and 140 mg silybin (Legalon Forte); or 200 ml tea. Blood was drawn once before, then 0.5, 1, 2, 3 and 4 h after the meal. Consumption of silybin with a meal resulted in a reduction in the postprandial increase in serum iron (AUC+/-s.e.) compared with water (silybin 1726.6+/-346.8 versus water 2988.8+/-167; P<0.05) and tea (silybin 1726.6+/-346.8 versus tea 2099.3+/-223.3; P<0.05). In conclusion, silybin has the potential to reduce iron absorption, and this deserves further investigation, as silybin could be an adjunct in the treatment of haemochromatosis.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 14 July 2010; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.136.
 The Iron Metabolism Interdisciplinary Research Group, Nutritional Sciences Division, Franklin-Wilkins Building, King's College London, London, UK  MRC Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge, UK.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: European journal of clinical nutrition
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Organic chemicals that form two or more coordination links with an iron ion. Once coordination has occurred, the complex formed is called a chelate. The iron-binding porphyrin group of hemoglobin is an example of a metal chelate found in biological systems.
Iron-containing proteins that transfer electrons, usually at a low potential, to flavoproteins; the iron is not present as in heme. (McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms, 5th ed)
Iron or iron compounds used in foods or as food. Dietary iron is important in oxygen transport and the synthesis of the iron-porphyrin proteins hemoglobin, myoglobin, cytochromes, and cytochrome oxidase. Insufficient amounts of dietary iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
A mixture of flavonoids extracted from seeds of the MILK THISTLE, Silybum marianum. It consists primarily of silybin and its isomers, silicristin and silidianin. Silymarin displays antioxidant and membrane stabilizing activity. It protects various tissues and organs against chemical injury, and shows potential as an antihepatoxic agent.
Natural product isolated from Streptomyces pilosus. It forms iron complexes and is used as a chelating agent, particularly in the mesylate form.
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