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    Haematinics as Nutritional Supplements

Elemental Iron

Iron is present in food systems in three oxidation states: the elemental form (FE0), ferrous iron (Fe+2), and ferric iron (Fe+3). Different food systems dictate which form of iron will need to be used. The general properties of the different forms of iron are shown in the table below:

S.No Type of iron Solubility Reactivity Bioavailability
1 Elemental Low Very low

Medium - Depends largely on size of particles

2 Ferrous high high highest
3 Ferric medium medium

lower than ferrous - similar to elemental

One general trend worth noting is that bioavailability is closely associated with reactivity; in other words, the more available the iron is, the more problems we will be likely to have with undesirable reactions in foods.

Elemental iron is commonly used in extruded foods (packaging will list "reduced iron"). Elemental iron is dark grey in color and has potential to discolor foods by showing up as dark flecks. The smaller the particles, the less they show up - however, smaller particles are more expensive to produce. Smaller particles are also more bioavailable than larger ones, so, in theory, less could be used to get the desired health benefits. Elemental or reduced iron is very stable under most circumstances

Ferrous iron is the cheapest and most effective form of fortification iron; it is also the most reactive. Foods fortified with ferrous iron tend to be less shelf-stable and more liable to rancidity. Flour can be successfully fortified with ferrous iron if storage conditions are controlled and the storage time is not extreme

Ferric iron is less reactive, less soluble, and less bioavailable than ferrous iron. It is also more expensive. It tends to work well in foods such as pastas and packaged foods which must have a long shelf life

Ionic States of Iron

Iron has a knack of switching back and forth between two ionic states, In the reduced state Iron has lost two electrons, and therefore has a net positive charge of two. Iron in the reduced state is known as Ferrous Iron, Fe+2. In the oxidized state iron has lost a third electron, has a net positive charge of three and is known as Ferric Iron Fe+3.

In every Cell, iron works with several of the electron-transport chain proteins that form the final steps of the energy yielding pathways.

Most of the body's Iron is found in two proteins: hemoglobin in the red blood cells, and myoglobin in the muscle cells. In both, iron helps accept, carry and release oxygen. Iron is also found in many enzymes that oxidize compounds by reactions so widespread in metabolisms that they occur in all cells. Enzymes involved in the making of amino acids, hormones, and neurotransmitters require iron.

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