Over the past few years, studies have been conducted exploring the variability in iron nutritional quality from a tropical vegetable, Amaranthus. In order to confirm previous iron bioavailability data, A. cruentus, A. hypochondriacus and A. tricolor lines were grown at the MSU Horticulture Research Center and then analyzed for total and in vitro bioavailable iron. Leaves were harvested 39 days after transplanting, washed, lyophilized and ground. Total iron levels were determined using atomic absorption spectroscopy and bioavailable iron estimates derived using an in vitro assay simulating gastrointestinal digestion. Among the lines tested, total iron concentrations ranged from 145 to 506 ppm. Bioavailable iron ranged from 44 to 70 ppm. Both the total and bioavailable iron measured were highest in A. tricolor, similar to results of previous years. Total iron values were lower for all of the lines than detected previously, but the range of bioavailable iron was similar to earlier work. Bioavailable iron estimated using the in vitro procedure does not appear to be greatly influenced by fluctuations in total iron content. Amaranth could provide between 44 and 70 mg Fe/100 gm fresh weight, equal to 20-35% of the daily Fe requirement for women, and 40-70% for men. Future experiments will utilize an animal bioassay to verify differences detected in bioavailable iron.
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