A Functional Food for the Prevention of Iron-deficiency Anemia

2014-08-27 03:16:26 | BioPortfolio


It has been estimated that 1 in 2 women expecting a baby will be diagnosed with iron deficiency. In turn iron deficiency can affect the health and wellbeing or both mother and child. Studies show that low iron stores prior to conception and low iron intakes during pregnancy may both be contributing to this problem. Although dietary supplements may be one solution, research indicates that daily compliance is low (Nguyen et al., 2008). Furthermore, prescribed iron supplements may result in uncomfortable side-effects, including constipation (Wulff & Ekstrom, 2003).

It is been observed in Ethiopia that iron deficiency anemia is lower than average; a finding that has been attributed to regular "Teff" consumption (Gies et al., 2003). Teff (Eragrostis tef) is a staple food usually consumed in the form of Enjera (flat bread prepared using a range of cereals). Research has shown that Teff is a rich source of iron that is easily absorbed by the body.

Although it is believed that regular Teff consumption may prevent to onset of iron deficiency anemia there is no research to support this. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to es-tablish whether incorporating Teff into the daily diet may be one way to improve blood profile and prevent the onset of iron deficiency anemia in expectant mothers. Study findings will demonstrate whether Teff may be an alternative source of iron that can be easily incorporated into the daily diet of both pregnant mothers and the lay public.


Rationale Iron deficiency anemia is considered to be one of the most prevalent forms of malnutrition in Europe (Stoltzfus, 2003 & Hercberg et al., 2001). Pregnant mothers are particularly susceptible to the onset of iron deficiency anemia (Daily & Wylie, 2008). It has been estimated that 1 in 2 pregnant women will be diagnosed with iron deficiency (Scholl, 2005). During pregnancy maternal plasma volume expands, increasing iron requirements (Scholl et al., 2000) whilst dietary intakes generally remain unchanged (Milman, 2006). Physiologically, intestinal iron absorption may increase during pregnancy but only after iron depletion has already commenced (Milman, 2006). Research strongly suggests that pregnant women are not meeting dietary guidelines for iron (Derbyshire et al., 2009).

A Sheffield (UK) study has reported that pregnant women consume around 10.2mg of iron per day (Mouratidou et al., 2006). Another investigation undertaken in a London population found that expectant mothers had a mean intake of 10.7mg iron per day (Rees et al., 2005). A further study investigating the diet of educated, Caucasian pregnant mothers reported similar figures (Derbyshire et al., 2006). Diets deficient in iron during gestation may subsequently affect infant health, in both the short and longer term (Scholl & Reilly, 2000). Iron deficiencies in pregnancy have been linked to preterm deliveries, reduced infant birth weight, length and iron stores (Daily & Wylie, 2008). Low iron stores during periods of infant brain growth may permanently impede cognitive development (Lozoff, 2007 & Lozoff & Georgieff, 2006).

Teff (Eragrostis tef) is a staple food consumed in northern, western and central Ethiopia; usually in the form of Enjera (flat bread prepared using a range of cereals, including Eragrostis tef) (Umeta et al., 2005). Research has shown that Teff is a rich source of bioavailable iron which may be attributed to its low phytate content. Bread made with Tef enjera contains around 30mg of iron per 100g and up to 35mg when the food is fermented (Umeta et al., 2005). The iron content dramatically exceeds that of common Western foods (Corn flakes 7.9mg, boiled brown rice, 0.5mg and brown bread, 2.2mg, all per 100g consumed) (FSA, 2006). Furthermore, studies have shown that the prevalence of pregnancy iron deficiency anemia is relatively low in Ethiopia (Gies et al., 2003) which may be attributed to Eragrostis tef forming a staple part of the diet (Haidar et al., 1999).

Incorporation of Teff into the daily diet of expectant mothers may help to reduce the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia. Research shows that women do not adhere to taking large tablet supplements (Nguyen et al., 2008). Teff may therefore provide an alternative source of dietary iron that can be easily incorporated into the daily diet of both pregnant mothers and the lay public.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Control: Placebo Control, Endpoint Classification: Bio-availability Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Investigator), Primary Purpose: Prevention




Control bread, Teff Bread


Manchester Food Research Centre, Manchester Metropolitan University
United Kingdom
M14 6HR




Manchester Metropolitan University

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:16:26-0400

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