Pea protein provides a promising matrix for microencapsulating iron

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2013 Dec;68(4):333-9. doi: 10.1007/s11130-013-0383-8.


Worldwide, the most prevalent nutritional deficiency is iron. The strategies for iron supplementation often fail due to poor adherence to supplementation methods contributed to unpleasant sensory characteristics. An alternative is the use of microencapsulated nutrients for home fortification in order to mask undesirable tastes and to allow its release in strategic sites of the gastrointestinal tract. Toward this end, pea protein concentrate was tested as a natural, edible and alternative material and the spray-drying technique was utilized for the preparation of microparticles containing ferrous sulfate. Their physical and chemical characteristics were evaluated. The microparticles had a spherical shape and grooves with an average size ranging between 2 and 3 μm. Analysis by in vitro assays tested the release of iron in simulated salivary and gastric fluids and its intestinal absorption in Caco-2 cells. No dissolution of iron occurred in the salivary medium whereas the sensory analysis showed good acceptance of a product which incorporated 5.5 mg of iron per 100 g portion of food. Thus, the effectiveness of microencapsulation was demonstrated by utilizing a plant protein as an encapsulating matrix for the controlled release of iron and capable of preserving the bioaccessibility of ferrous sulfate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Biological Availability
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Drug Compounding
  • Ferrous Compounds / administration & dosage*
  • Ferrous Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Gastric Juice
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron / therapeutic use
  • Iron Deficiencies
  • Particle Size
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pisum sativum / chemistry*
  • Plant Proteins* / pharmacokinetics
  • Saliva
  • Taste*


  • Ferrous Compounds
  • Plant Proteins
  • ferrous sulfate
  • Iron