Archive for March 2012

Legumes (Including Beans, Peas, Lentils) Could Effectively Treat Iron Deficiency!

March 29, 2012
Legumes (Including Beans, Peas, Lentils) Could Effectively Treat Iron Deficiency!

Legumes, Beans, Lentils, Peas  


Superior Absorption Mechanism Could Provide Important Key To Treating Iron Deficiency Worldwide…

A groundbreaking study conducted by Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) research scientists are now revealing the existence of  independent mechanisms for more efficient Iron absorption from non-meat sources.

It is an exciting new potential treatment for Iron deficiency, the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide. The discovery of an alternative mechanism for Iron absorption from vegetables and legumes may provide the key to helping solve Iron deficiency by providing a low cost alternative and readily available source of Iron.

Featured in a recent publication in The Journal of Nutrition (published online January 2012),
a team of international researchers demonstrated that there is an alternative mechanism for the absorption of Ferritin, a large, protein-coated Iron rich mineral present in legumes; In addition to the more well-known mechanism for Iron absorption of small iron complexes like those found in common Iron supplements, it is a vegetarian source.

Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils… 

“Our study shows that this different mechanism of iron absorption from plant Ferritin is more efficient and gives the intestinal cells more control. It can be a new way to help solve global Iron deficiency,” say the resesarchers.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in both developing and non-developing nations. Traditional treatments include iron supplements and increased  consumption of beef.

Unfortunately, these typical approaches have have limitations to successfully treating Iron deficiency;

Here’s why…
Iron supplements frequently cause unwanted side effects, including constipation, intestinal gas and uncomfortable bloating;  The unpleasant side effects lead to inconsistent consumption by individuals suffering from Iron deficiency.

In some cultures where iron deficiency is
endemic, meat is scarce; frequently, the limited meat available is reserved for men, even though growing children and women of child-bearing age are the most susceptible to iron deficiency.

The discovery of an alternative and highly efficient mechanism for iron absorption from legumes, however, could provide the key to helping solve worldwide iron deficiency by providing a readily available and affordable source of iron.

New Research Demonstrates Benefits Of Legumes As Newly Identified Iron Source… 

This important new study combines the results
of two different experiments, one conducted in human trials and the other using laboratory subjects to model humans. In the lab model, portions of the subjects’ intestines were bathed with solutions of traceable iron, either as a typical type of iron supplement or as ferritin (protein-coated iron mineral).

Measurements showed that both the large ferritin and the smaller iron complex were absorbed through the intestine.

In the human study, traceable iron in ferritin was consumed by volunteers with a 9:1 ratio of unlabelled, non-meat iron dietary supplement, or with hemoglobin, with the type of  iron in meat, to see if the two types of iron competed with ferritin iron for the same absorption mechanism. In each case, the iron competitor had no effect on the iron
absorption from ferritin.

“What these studies show together is that during digestion, ferritin is not converted from its large, mineral complex, which contains a thousand iron atoms, to individual iron atoms like those found in many iron supplements,” explains the doctors conducting the research. “

Instead, ferritin iron is absorbed in its protein-coated, iron mineral form by a different, independent mechanism;

Iron absorbed as ferritin, leaves the intestine more slowly, but may, provide greater safety to the intestines than iron supplements.”

In addition to its benefit of being safer, causing less irritation to the intestines, absorption of iron as ferritin is easier for the intestine.

The iron found in meat and non-meat iron supplements enters the intestine from food one iron atom at a time. Each entry step requires the intestinal cells to use up energy. When the intestine takes in a single molecule of ferritin, however, it gets a thousand atoms inside that one ferritin molecule, making iron absorption that much more efficient.

While further studies are needed to better understand the exact mechanism of ferritin absorption, in the mean time, the results demonstrate that ferritin-rich foods such as legumes can provide a significant source of dietary iron for those in the greatest need of increasing their iron consumption.

Story Source: Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland,

Journal Reference: Journal of Nutrition, 2012;
“Absorption of Iron from Ferritin Is Independent of Heme Iron and Ferrous Salts” 

This article is for informational and educational purposes only;  It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor or

healthcare professional.