Influence of ascorbic acid on iron absorption from an iron-fortified, chocolate-flavored milk drink in Jamaican children

Lena Davidsson, Thomas Walczyk, Audrey Morris, Richard F. Hurrell

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47 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of ascorbic acid on iron absorption from an iron- fortified, chocolate-flavored milk drink (6.3 mg total Fe per serving) was evaluated with a stable-isotope technique in 20 6-7-y-old Jamaican children. Each child received two test meals labeled with 5.6 mg 57Fe and 3.0 mg 58Fe as ferrous sulfate on 2 consecutive days. Three different doses of ascorbic acid (0, 25, and 50 mg per 25-g serving) were evaluated in two separate studies by using a crossover design. Iron isotope ratios were measured by negative thermal ionization mass spectrometry. In the first study, iron absorption was significantly greater (P < 0.0001) after the addition of 25 mg ascorbic acid: geometric mean iron absorption was 1.6% (range: 0.9-4.2%) and 5.1% (2.2-17.3%) for the test meals containing 0 and 25 mg ascorbic acid, respectively. In the second study, a significant difference (P < 0.05) in iron absorption was observed when the ascorbic acid content was increased from 25 to 50 mg: geometric mean iron absorption was 5.4% (range: 2.7-10.8%) compared with 7.7% (range: 4.7-16.5%), respectively. The chocolate drink contained relatively high amounts of polyphenolic compounds, phytic acid, and calcium, all well-known inhibitors of iron absorption. The low iron absorption without added ascorbic acid shows that chocolate milk is a poor vehicle for iron fortification unless sufficient amounts of an iron- absorption enhancer are added. Regular consumption of iron-fortified chocolate milk drinks containing added ascorbic acid could have a positive effect on iron nutrition in population groups vulnerable to iron deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-877
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998


  • Anemia
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Bioavailability
  • Children
  • Chocolate milk drinks
  • Iron
  • Iron fortification
  • Jamaica
  • Stable isotopes


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