The effect of dairy products on iron availability

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1992;31(4):259-70. doi: 10.1080/10408399209527573.


Many researchers report substantial reductions in iron availability when dairy products are consumed with solutions of iron. Yet other studies indicate that dairy products have little effect on iron availability when added to complex meals. The conflicting data may be due to differences in the technique used to measure availability, species of animal used, form of iron in the diet, and meal composition. Human studies show superior bioavailability of iron in human milk when compared with cow's milk. Definitive causes for the differences between human and cow's milk have not been identified. Human milk contains lower amounts of casein, phosphate, and calcium, components thought to inhibit iron absorption. More work is needed to identify the factors that influence iron-dairy interactions. The nutritional benefits provided by dairy products outweigh the slight inhibitory effect they may have on iron availability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Dairy Products / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Iron / pharmacokinetics*
  • Milk / adverse effects
  • Milk / analysis
  • Milk / physiology*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Milk, Human / physiology*


  • Iron