The influence of meat on nonheme iron absorption in infants

Pediatr Res. 1998 Jun;43(6):768-73. doi: 10.1203/00006450-199806000-00009.


During weaning the infant has a high iron requirement, and highly available dietary iron is needed to ensure optimal iron status. Muscle tissue has been identified as an enhancer of nonheme iron absorption in adults, although the influence of meat on nonheme iron absorption in infants has not been previously reported. The effect of the addition of 25 g of meat (lean beef) on nonheme iron absorption from a home-prepared vegetable purée meal (80 g of vegetables) was investigated in infants in the present study. The meals did not differ in their contents of other known enhancers or inhibitors of nonheme iron absorption. Incorporation of stable isotopes of iron (57Fe and 58Fe) into red blood cells 14 d after intake was used to measure iron absorption, using a cross-over design in eight healthy infants 43-49 wk of age. Nonheme iron absorption was significantly increased (p = 0.002) from the vegetable purée with added meat (geometric mean 15.0%) compared with the puréed vegetables (geometric mean 9.9%). These results thus suggest that meat is also an enhancer of nonheme iron absorption in infants and that nonheme iron absorption from weaning foods can be increased by the addition of meat.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron / metabolism*
  • Iron Radioisotopes* / blood
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Reference Values


  • Iron Radioisotopes
  • Iron