Calcium Does Not Inhibit Iron Absorption or Alter Iron Status in Infant Piglets Adapted to a High Calcium Diet
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The purpose of this study was to investigate whether a dietary calcium:iron ratio similar to that often consumed by premature human infants inhibits iron absorption in infant piglets adapted to a high calcium diet. Male Yorkshire piglets were randomized at 3 to 4 d of age to a high calcium diet (4.67 g/L = HC) or a normal calcium diet (2.0 g/L = NC) and fed for 2 to 2.5 wk. An iron dextran injection was administered in amounts to achieve a marginal state of iron repletion to simulate iron status of premature infants. In vivo iron absorption from the diet was determined using the radiotracers 55Fe and 59Fe and whole body counting. Calcium:iron interactions at absorption sites in piglets fed HC and NC were investigated by measurements of time-dependent 59Fe uptake in response to different calcium:iron ratios in vitro in brush border membrane vesicles (BBMV). In vivo iron absorption from the diet did not differ between NC and HC diet groups [57 +/- 8% versus 55 +/- 17% (mean +/- SD), respectively]. Iron status and iron contencentrations in spleen, liver, intestine, kidney and heart did not differ between diet groups. Iron uptake in BBMV was significantly reduced by calcium in both HC and NC (P < 0.001); but there were no significant differences in iron uptake in response to different calcium:iron ratios between HC and NC. With feeding a HC diet for 2 wk there may be an adaptive response to counteract the inhibitory effects of calcium on iron absorption, thus resulting in similar in vivo iron absorption and iron status irrespective of the 1.3-fold difference in dietary calcium:iron ratio between piglet groups. However, future studies are needed to determine the specific sites of calcium:iron interactions and adaptation mechanisms. Since the calcium:iron ratios used in this study reflect the usual calcium:iron ratios in diets for premature infants, it is unlikely that interactive effects of calcium with iron will compromise iron status in this infant population when diets are supplemented with calcium.
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