Preventing Iron and Micro-nutrient Deficiency with Tea

Micronutrient poor diets around the globe, and in particular in the developing world, cause deficiencies in iron and folic acid. Rectifying this issue through food fortification has been the focus of my graduate research. The fortification of black tea with iron has the potential to reduce the prevalence of iron deficiency in the developing world. Tea is an ideal vehicle for food fortification because it is centrally processed, is the most consumed beverage globally, aside from water, and is consumed in regular quantities by those of all socioeconomic strata in many regions. Unfortunately, polyphenolic compounds present in tea, which are responsible for colour and flavour, form complexes with iron which reduce the bioavailability of both compounds and cause strong unattractive colour development. BioZone researchers are developing techniques for tea fortification that prevent these complexes from forming. The most successful formulations currently use a chelating agent, disodium EDTA, to compete with tea polyphenols and form colourless bioavailable iron complexes. Another strategy to prevent micronutrient deficiency through food fortification is to incorporate iron and folic acid into current salt iodization processes.  The objective of my M.A.Sc. research was to develop folic acid and iodine spray solutions and investigate the stability of triple-fortified salt containing iodine, folic acid and microencapsulated iron, i.e., ferrous fumarate.

Elisa McGee