View Full Version : Iron in cereal

02-17-2006, 12:58 PM
I found an interesting experiment on the internet about the iron in our cereal.

Want to try something a bit unusual? You know that several cereals claim to be "iron fortified". How do they do that? By adding some finely powdered iron (like small iron filings) in with the cereal as it is being mixed. To see this, simply do the following:
a. Get some cereal that has a large percentage of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for iron, and pour half a serving into a bowl.
b. Add water (no need to waste the milk) to the cereal.
c. Mix up the stuff so that it is a watery slurry, not very thick.
d. Take a strong rare-earth magnet and place it into an inside-out zip-lock bag. The purpose for the bag is to keep the surface of the magnet free from iron particles which are very difficult to get off.
e. Move the bagged magnet around in the slurry of the cereal.
f. After a minute, take the magnet and its plastic bag out of the slurry, and examine it to see small, dark specks attached to the plastic at the magnet. This is metallic iron.
g. Unfortunately, our bodies can not absorb metallic iron very well, so this really does not help with our intake of iron. It would be better to take a supplementary multi-vitamin/mineral pill which contains an absorbable iron. The iron is needed to help form hemoglobin, which is the pigment in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen.
h. You can now turn the bag outside in and carefully remove the magnet from the zip-lock bag. This will keep the iron filings inside the bag and off the magnet.

You may of heard of this...but my question is: is it healthy to be eating metallic iron? and why would they be putting this in our foods in the first place?

02-17-2006, 03:25 PM
Hey, that experiment you're talking about sounds familiar. Yes, it's safe. Whether it's Heme or non-heme iron, chelated or not chelated, it's been used in cereals, especially baby cereals, baby formula's, etc. for a long time. The absorption rate of different types of iron will vary but if you were to take 3 mg of heme iron and 50 mg of non-heme iron you end up with about the same absorption. It's balanced out by just using higher mg's of the non-heme. Fewer people use them now, but a lot of people used to get their iron from iron cooking pots and skillets.

One reason it's added to baby formula is because fewer women are breast-feeding. The iron in breast milk is better absorbed, plus a normal healthy baby (if it's full-term) has enough iron stores to last maybe up to 9 months. But if the baby's not breast fed, they have to get the iron from supplements. When they get old enough for solid food, they're usually pretty picky and won't eat the good stuff that has natural iron in it, plus some of them drink too much cow's milk. When they reach the teen years, boys (and girls) who are athletic will need more iron, and girls especially need extra iron when they reach puberty. There's more anemia in girls and women because of our periods and most of us don't eat enough foods that are high in iron. Whew! That's just the short list! LOL

My body doesn't properly absorb iron, so I take supplements in the form of ferrous sulfate for my anemia. Oh joy. :D