MixMe Improves Nutrition of South African Children

January 31, 2011

3 Min Read
MixMe Improves Nutrition of South African Children

ZURICHMixMe  micronutrient powder, from DSM Nutritional Products, provided a highly absorbable form of iron and zinc, and reduced deficiencies of both minerals in South African school children with low iron status (JNutr. 2011 Feb;141(2):237-42).

In a double-blind controlled trial, MixMe was used to fortify the traditional breakfast of maize porridge that is consumed by South African primary school children. The 200 children in study were randomized to receive either the MixMe or an unfortified carrier added just before consumption to a high-phytate maize porridge fives d/week for 23 weeks.

Compared with the control, MixMe increased body iron stores (P<0.01) and serum ferritin (P<0.05), a protein that stores and releases iron in the body. MixMe decreased transferrin receptor (P<0.05); low iron concentrations promote increased levels of transferrin receptor. The prevalence of iron deficiency fell by 30.6 percent (P<0.01), and the prevalence of zinc deficiency decreased by 11.8 percent (P<0.05). Absorption of iron from the MNP was estimated to be 7percent to 8 percent.

Iron and zinc deficiency are among the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, and pose an even greater threat to the health of women and children. In the past, attempts have been made to supplement affected populations with high doses of iron. This practice is now discouraged by the World Health Organisation (WHO) because research suggests that in regions of the world where malaria is endemic, untargeted iron supplementation may increase hospitalizations due to malaria in children. Moreover, untargeted iron supplementation in such regions may also increase the risk of bacteria from the intestine infecting the bloodstream, a co-infection common with malaria. This is due to the action of the excess iron that is not absorbed into the bloodstream.

The failure to absorb iron is in part attributable to the diet available to many of the worlds poorest populations, in which whole-grain cereals and legumes figure prominently. These foods contain a naturally occurring anti-nutrient called phytate, which binds minerals, including iron and zinc, and makes them unavailable for absorption by the human body.

MixMe provides low doses of zinc and iron, which makes the product suitable for people in malaria-infested areas.  The new MixMe formulation used in the study contains a readily bioavailable form of iron (NaFeEDTA) plus an increased vitamin C dose along with a phytase which is active at stomach pH. Phytase is an enzyme that helps to release the digestible nutrients found in grains and oil seeds.

Rob Beudeker, Innovation Program Director, DSM Nutritional Products, commented: "Trösch et al have shown MixMe offers iron in a highly bioavailable form. Even when a populations staple diet is high in whole-grain cereals and legumes, essential levels of iron can be made available for digestion by this means."

Owaldo da Costa e Silva, Senior Director Nutrition Improvement Program, added: These results will further help DSM to introduce cutting-edge solutions to improve micronutrient nutrition in certain parts of the globe. It could also be important in the global fight against nutritional anemia, as well as in the eradication of hidden hunger."

MixMe is was launched in early 2008 in cooperation with the World Food Programme as part of DMS Nutrition Improvement Program, which is dedicated to improving the nutritional status of people with micronutrient deficiencies. It supports and promotes staple food fortification as an effective, affordable tool to reach a large proportion of a population and cooperate closely with organizations and government bodies. The Nutrition Improvement Program also partners with international and local industry to develop new business models and tailor-made sustainable solutions for specific needs. 

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