Interactions among iron, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in the nutritionally iron-deficient rat

Exp Physiol. 1998 Nov;83(6):771-81. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.1998.sp004158.


We studied the development of nutritional iron deficiency 0, 10, 20, 30 and 40 days after the intake of a semisynthetic diet lacking iron (diet 0) and the possible interactions with calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in both control rats and rats after 40 days of iron deficiency. During this period, iron deficiency was found to produce stress in the rats, as evidenced by high levels of cortisol in the serum. High levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) were also found. There was a considerable increase in the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, but the phosphorus and magnesium balance decreased and that of calcium remained practically unchanged, although there was an increase in calcium urinary elimination. Despite the noticeable degree of bone demineralization, which was evident in the femur, serum levels of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium remained constant. The present study shows that severe nutritional ferropenic anaemia provokes significant alterations in the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. We conclude that these alterations should be taken into account in the treatment of this pathology, given its prevalence and the fact that it may exacerbate other pathologies, particularly those related to the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / pathology
  • Animals
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Bone Demineralization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Calcium / pharmacokinetics
  • Calcium / pharmacology*
  • Diet
  • Hormones / blood
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Iron / pharmacokinetics
  • Iron / pharmacology*
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Magnesium / pharmacokinetics
  • Magnesium / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Phosphorus / pharmacokinetics
  • Phosphorus / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology


  • Hormones
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Phosphorus
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Hydrocortisone