Changing the zinc: iron ratio in a cereal-based nutritional supplement has no effect on percent absorption of iron and zinc in Sri Lankan children

Manjula Hettiarachchi, Chandrani Liyanage, David Hilmers, Ian Griffin, Steven A. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


The Thriposha programme is a community-level nutrition intervention in Sri Lanka that provides a combination of energy, protein and micronutrients as a ready-to-eat cereal-based food. We measured the bioavailability of Fe and Zn from Thriposha formula at two different molar ratios of Zn:Fe in order to determine the effect on Fe and Zn absorption. Children 4-7 years (n 53) were given a meal prepared with 50g Thriposha containing 15mg Zn as zinc sulphate and either 9mg (high Fe concentration (HiFe)) or 45mg (low Fe concentration (LoFe)) Fe as ferrous fumarate. Zn and Fe percent absorption were measured using stable isotopes by tracer:tracee ratio and by incorporation of erythrocytes, respectively. Percent Fe absorption from the two meals was similar (66% (48) v. 48% (26); P=015), but total Fe absorption was significantly higher from the HiFe meal (059 (043)mg) than the LoFe meal (020 (012)mg; P=001). There was no significant difference between the two groups in Zn absorption (107% (09) v. 88% (14), P=013, respectively). Decreasing the amount of Fe in Thriposha did not cause a significant change in the percent absorption of Fe and Zn, but significantly lowered the total amount of absorbed Fe. These results demonstrate the utility of maintaining a higher Fe content in this supplement. Further studies to increase Zn content are warranted while maintaining a HiFe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1022
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes



  • Iron absorption
  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Zinc absorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine(all)

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