Iron deficiency is a major public health concern and nutritional approaches are required to reduce its prevalence. The aim of this study was to examine the iron bioavailability of a novel home fortificant, the "Lucky Iron Fish™" (LIF) (www.luckyironfish.com/shop, Guelph, Canada) and the impact of dietary factors and a food matrix on iron uptake from LIF in Caco-2 cells. LIF released a substantial quantity of iron (about 1.2 mM) at pH 2 but this iron was only slightly soluble at pH 7 and not taken up by cells. The addition of ascorbic acid (AA) maintained the solubility of iron released from LIF (LIF-iron) at pH 7 and facilitated iron uptake by the cells in a concentration-dependent manner. In vitro digestion of LIF-iron in the presence of peas increased iron uptake 10-fold. However, the addition of tannic acid to the digestion reduced the cellular iron uptake 7.5-fold. Additionally, LIF-iron induced an overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), similar to ferrous sulfate, but this effect was counteracted by the addition of AA. Overall, our data illustrate the major influence of dietary factors on iron solubility and bioavailability from LIF, and demonstrate that the addition of AA enhances iron uptake and reduces ROS in the intestinal lumen.
Keywords: iron bioavailability; iron fortification; simulated gastrointestinal digestion.