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NaFeEDTA-Fortified Fish Sauce: The Cure to Iron Deficiency Anemia in Vietnam?


Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world. It is estimated that as many as 4-5 billion people, 66-80% of the world’s population, may be iron deficient. These staggering numbers correlate with significantly poorer performance on psychomotor and mental development scales and behavioral ratings in infants, lower scores on cognitive function tests in preschool children, lower scores in cognitive function tests and educational achievement tests in school-age children, and poor pregnancy outcome. However, 90 percent, of the iron deficiency is found in developing nations. It is very important to implement a form of intervention that is both effective and economically sound. Iron fortification programs have been implemented worldwide. For Southeast Asia, NaFeEDTA-Fortified fish sauce is the key. Recent studies clearly show that fish sauce fortified with NaFeEDTA is efficacious in improving iron status and reducing the prevalence of IDA in anemic Vietnamese women. These results add to growing body of evidence that food fortification with iron compounds having high bioavailability is a useful approach to combat iron deficiency and IDA. The purpose of this review article is to explore the epidemiology of IDA and evaluate the utility, cost and benefit of the fortification of fish sauce with NaFeEDTA.

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