The role of vitamin C in iron absorption

Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 1989:30:103-8.


Iron requirements remain the same despite the current lower energy requirement. This means that more iron must be absorbed per unit energy. A higher bioavailability of the dietary iron can be achieved by increasing the content of food components enhancing iron absorption (ascorbic acid, meat/fish) or by decreasing the content of inhibitors (e.g., phytates, tannins). The latter is not feasible considering the recent and reasonable trend toward increasing the intake of dietary fibre. The key role of ascorbic acid for the absorption of dietary nonheme iron is generally accepted. The reasons for its action are twofold: (1) the prevention of the formation of insoluble and unabsorbable iron compounds and (2) the reduction of ferric to ferrous iron, which seems to be a requirement for the uptake of iron into the mucosal cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects*
  • Iron / metabolism*


  • Iron
  • Ascorbic Acid