Iron deficiency is common, especially among young women. Adding probiotics to foods could be one way to increase iron absorption. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that non-haem iron absorption from a fruit drink is improved by adding Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (Lp299v). Iron absorption was studied in healthy women of reproductive age using a single-blind cross-over design in two trials applying the double-isotope (55Fe and 59Fe) technique. In Trial 1, iron absorption from a fruit drink containing 109 colony-forming units (CFU) Lp299v was compared with that from a control drink without Lp299v. Trial 2 had the same design but 1010 CFU were used. The test and control drinks contained approximately 5 mg of iron as ferrous lactate and were labelled with 59Fe (B) and 55Fe (A), respectively, and consumed on 4 consecutive days in the order AABB. Retention of the isotopes was measured with whole-body counting and in blood. Mean iron absorption from the drink containing 109 CFU Lp299v (28·6(sd 12·5) %) was significantly higher than from the control drink (18·5(sd 5·8) %), n 10, P<0·028). The fruit drink with 1010 CFU Lp299v gave a mean iron absorption of 29·1(sd 17·0) %, whereas the control drink gave an absorption of (20·1(sd 6·4) %) (n 11, P<0·080). The difference in iron absorption between the 109 CFU Lp299v and the 1010 CFU Lp299v drinks was not significant (P=0·941). In conclusion, intake of probiotics can increase iron absorption by approximately 50 % from a fruit drink having an already relatively high iron bioavailability.
Keywords: CFU colony-forming units; Females; Fruit drinks; Iron status; Lactobacillus plantarum 299v; Lp299v Lactobacillus plantarum 299v; PA phytic acid; Probiotics; Radio iron; Radioisotopes.