Jean Bosco Gahutu
Iron deficiency is an important public health problem, with more than 1.5 billion people affected worldwide. It causes iron-deficiency anemia with deleterious effects in pregnant women and children under five years of age, including growth retardation, cognitive impairment, increased morbidity and poor pregnancy outcome. Biofortification through crossbreeding constitutes a promising approach to obtain crops with high iron content (>60% increase in biofortified beans). We conducted a series of absorption studies in young adult females at the University of Rwanda, to evaluate the role of potential inhibitors of iron absorption from beans, using multiple test meals. Iron stable isotope labels 57ferrous sulfate and 58ferrous sulfate were used. Iron absorption was measured based on erythrocyte incorporation of iron stable isotope labels 14 days after the test meals. Absorption studies showed higher quantity of iron absorbed from low phytic acid beans as compared to normal beans. An efficacy study conducted over 4.5 months among young adult females at the University of Rwanda Huye campus showed greater improvement of hemoglobin concentration (3.8 g/L) and log serum ferritin (0.1 log µg/L) among the group receiving biofortified beans as compared to the group receiving control beans. There was a 4.2 g/L increase in hemoglobin for every 1 g Fe consumed over 128 days of feeding trial (P<0.05).