Universal iron fortification of foods: the view of a hematologist

Rev Bras Hematol Hemoter. 2012;34(6):459-63. doi: 10.5581/1516-8484.20120113.


With the objective of reducing the high incidence of iron deficiency anemia, the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) adopted Resolution 344 in December 2002, which made the addition of iron and folic acid to all industrialized wheat and maize flours in Brazil compulsory. After a series of doubts about this universal measure of food fortification, a review of case reports on long-term medicinal iron intake published in the medical literature was undertaken to investigate the clinical behavior of this hematological conduct. Long-term medicinal iron ingestion is an extremely rare and serious situation. The data suggest that there are cases of hemochromatosis in women whose illnesses were accelerated with this therapy. It is very difficult to determine the amount of iron ingested by Brazilian citizens in the current system of fortification, but there is evidence that there has been an appreciable increase. Although iron fortification of food has been recognized by some authors as a good strategy to combat iron deficiency, some nation shave abandoned this measure. The patient with hemochromatosis is the most affected by compulsory iron fortification and as this disease is now considered a public health problem, we believe that Resolution 344 of ANVISA should be reviewed in order to find a solution beneficial to all segments of the Brazilian population; one should not try to correct one condition (iron deficiency) by exacerbating another (acceleration of iron overload cases).

Keywords: Anemia, iron-deficiency; Case reports; Food, fortified; Hemochromatosis.