Too Much Iron Intake From
Fortified Cereals?
By Charnicia E. Huggins

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People may be consuming too much iron and folate from fortified cereals, according to US government researchers. Some of these cereals contain more of these nutrients than their label states, and most people eat more than the recommended serving size, the researchers report.
Eating two bowls of cereal can be equivalent to taking two vitamins, a spokesperson from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Reuters Health. ``You can easily take in several times the daily value just from cereal alone,'' she said.
The daily value (DV) per serving size on manufacturer's labels is based on the 18 milligrams of iron and 400 micrograms of folic acid recommended for daily consumption by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Paul Whittaker and colleagues from the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in Washington, DC compared nutrition information from the labels of 26 ready-to-eat cereals and three hot cereals with the actual amounts of iron and folate the cereals contained, as determined by chemical analysis.
The investigators found that 21 of the cereals contained 120% or more iron than was specified on the label, according to the report published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
And getting too much iron can be harmful, according to FDA officials. ``Studies have shown that higher iron status in males may be associated with an increased risk for cancer and heart disease,'' the spokesperson said.
Fourteen of the 27 cereals that listed the amount of added folate actually contained more than 150% above what was listed on the label, the report indicates. The remaining cereals had folate levels that ranged from 98% to 144% of the manufacturer's claim.
Previous studies have shown that pregnant women who take folic acid may reduce their baby's risk of neural tube defects--birth defects affecting the brain and spine. Again, however, more may not necessarily be better.
``It is very well-intentioned, but it is not necessarily good that females are eating so much folate from so many different sources,'' the FDA spokesperson said. Too much folate can mask anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency, the authors note.
Whittaker and his team also compared the 30 gram manufacturer's serving size with the actual servings poured out by 72 study participants and found that most people ate more than two times the listed serving. Most males served themselves about 75 grams of cereal and most females served themselves 56 grams.
In such cases, when combined with other types of fortified foods and vitamins eaten throughout the day, individuals can easily consume as much as 400% of recommended levels of iron and folate, the FDA spokesperson said.
In light of the findings, the spokesperson said that consumers should be aware that because they are eating more than the manufacturer's serving size, they are also getting more iron and folate than listed for the recommended portions. Also, ``adult males should look for cereals that have no iron or low amounts.''
SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Nutrition 2001;20:247-254
From Byron Miller
Jeff -
Years ago when I was in high school, my physics teacher put a bunch of cereal (Total, I believe) in a beaker, filled the beaker with water, and then stirred the mixture using a device which spun a magnet in the bottom of the beaker. Lo and behold, when he pulled the magnet out after several minutes of mixing, it was covered with IRON SHAVINGS !! No joke. He did this experiment every year with the same results, and even called the company to complain. Just thought you'd like to know...
Love your site, and your show!!
Byron in Venice,



This Site Served by TheHostPros