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Diabetes Health Type 1 & 2: Peas Can Be An Effective Iron Supplement

0 2 years ago

Iron contained within peas could be processed to provide more effective dietary supplements, according to a new study by scientists at the University of East Anglia.

Supplements are taken by people with low iron levels to prevent fatigue, shortness of breath or dizziness, but are also poorly absorbed by the body. Because they contain quite high doses of iron, this can lead to side effects such as stomach pain or constipation.

Many plants naturally contain rich sources of iron, but as they pass through the stomach the iron is released from the food as it is being digested and then bound by different compounds in the gut, preventing it being absorbed.

The research team wanted to find out if there was a way in which iron, taken from peas in the form of a protein called ferritin, could be absorbed more effectively.

The ferritin was extracted and purified using methods designed at the John Innes Centre, in Norwich, and the UEA team tested it in cells designed to mimic the human gut.

The cells were treated with the ferritin protein previously exposed to acid conditions – similar to those found in the stomach – and then again under pH conditions closer to neutral – comparable to the body’s small intestine.

The results, published in the Journal of Nutrition, showed that when the ferritin was exposed to acid conditions, it breaks down and the iron is released. It then behaves like other plant-derived iron with only small amounts being absorbed.

If the ferritin is introduced to the cells under neutral pH conditions, however, it remains intact and can be absorbed by cells in the gut in a process called endocytosis.


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