Adverse effects of high dietary iron and ascorbic acid on copper status in copper-deficient and copper-adequate rats

Am J Clin Nutr. 1988 Jan;47(1):96-101. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/47.1.96.


The effects of elevated dietary ascorbic acid and iron on copper utilization were examined. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were fed one of two levels of Cu (deficient, 0.42 microgram Cu/g, or adequate, 5.74 micrograms Cu/g), Fe (moderate, 38 micrograms Fe/g or high, 191 micrograms Fe/g), and ascorbic acid (low, 0% or high, 1% of the diet) for 20 d. High Fe decreased (p less than 0.05) Cu absorption only in Cu-deficient rats. High ascorbic acid significantly decreased tissue Cu levels in Cu-adequate rats. High Fe with ascorbic acid caused severe anemia in Cu-deficient rats and decreased plasma ceruloplasmin by 44% in Cu-adequate rats. Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase activity in erythrocytes was decreased (p less than 0.05) by 14% during Cu deficiency but was not affected by Fe or ascorbic acid. These results may be important to individuals with high intakes of Fe and ascorbic acid.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Anemia / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Ascorbic Acid / adverse effects*
  • Ceruloplasmin / analysis
  • Copper / administration & dosage
  • Copper / deficiency*
  • Copper / metabolism*
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Feces / analysis
  • Hematocrit
  • Iron / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Superoxide Dismutase / blood
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Ceruloplasmin
  • Ascorbic Acid