Effect of ascorbic acid on apparent iron absorption by women with low iron stores

Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Jun;59(6):1381-5. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/59.6.1381.


The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on apparent iron absorption was tested in women with low iron stores. For 10 wk, 25 healthy nonpregnant women, aged 20-45 y with low serum ferritin (3.5-17.7 micrograms/L), consumed either a diet with predicted poorly bioavailable iron or a typical Western diet, classified according to dietary meat and ascorbic acid contents. Meals were supplemented with ascorbic acid (500 mg, three times a day) for 5 of the 10 wk, in a double-blind, crossover design. Ascorbic acid did not affect most biochemical indexes of iron status, the biological half-life of 59Fe, or apparent iron absorption (diet-feces) from either diet, but slightly increased serum ferritin (11.9 vs 10.7 micrograms/L, P < 0.06) when data from both diets were combined. These results support other evidence that ascorbic acid has less effect on iron bioavailability than has been predicted from tests with single meals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Biological Availability
  • Diet
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / deficiency
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology


  • Iron
  • Ascorbic Acid