Nanocompounds of iron and zinc: their potential in nutrition

M.B. Zimmermann, F.M. Hilty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies suggest nanostructured oxides and phosphates of Fe and atomically mixed Fe/Zn may be useful for nutritional applications. These compounds may have several advantages over existing fortificants, such as ferrous sulfate (FeSO(4)), NaFeEDTA and electrolytic iron. Because of their very low solubility and formation of soft agglomerates of micron size at neutral pH as well as their light native color, they tend to be less reactive in difficult-to-fortify foods and thus have superior sensory performance. At gastric pH the soft agglomerates break up and the Fe compounds rapidly and completely dissolve due to their very high surface area. This results in in vitro solubility and in vivo bioavailability comparable to FeSO(4). Doping with Mg and/or Ca may increase solubility and improve sensory characteristics by lightening color. Feeding the nanostructured compounds at 150-400 mu g Fe day(-1) for 15 days to weanling rats in two studies did not induce measurable histological or biochemical adverse effects. No significant Fe was detected in the submucosa of the gastrointestinal tract or lymphatic tissues, suggesting that the nanosized Fe is absorbed through usual non-heme Fe absorption pathways. Thus, these novel compounds show promise as food fortificants or supplements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2390-2398
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • particle-size
  • oxide nanoparticles
  • flame synthesis
  • oral delivery
  • phosphate nanoparticles
  • gastrointestinal-tract
  • ferric pyrophosphate
  • in-vivo
  • bioavailability
  • rats


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