Fortification is a sustainable strategy to reduce the incidence of anemia but highly absorbable iron fortificants causing undesirable sensory changes in foods is of concern. Our objective was to compare iron absorption from iron enriched fungus (AspironTM) with FeSO4 in humans using stable isotopemethodology. AspironTM is an inactive form of Aspegillus oryzae containing 6-8% of iron, produced by Cura Global Health, Inc., using using a proprietary technology.
AspironTM was intrinsically labelled with 58Fe and FeSO4 was labeled with 57Fe. Sixteen female subjects (18-35 y) with ferritin concentration of <40µg/L were randomized to consume semi-purified test meal with added stable iron isotopes on two consecutive days. Each meal contained 10 mg iron (10 mg 57Fe in FeSO4 or 2 mg 58Fe in AspironTM form). C-reactive protein, hepcidin, and ferritin concentrations were measured using commercial kits at the beginning of study. Iron absorption was assessed by measuring isotope enrichment in blood by magnetic sector thermal ionization mass spectrometry at Cornell University after 14 days of feeding.
The 12% difference in absoprtion (mean+SEM) between 57Fe (17.1+1.2%) and 58Fe (15.1+1.2%) was not statistically significant. Iron absorption from both FeSO4 and AspironTM was inversely correlated with serum ferritin (R2 =0.52, p=0.003; R2=0.58, p<0.001, respectively) as well as with hepcidin (R2=0.30, p=0.028; R2=0.38, p=0.024, respectively) suggesting that the absorption of AspironTM is regulated similar to FeSO4.
In conclusion, AspironTM has the potential to be used as a fortificant which can offer high bioavailability and may cause fewer organoleptic changes because of iron in organic form.