UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Effects of Iron Supplementation and Fortification on the Gut Microbiota: A Review Finlayson, Emma; Fischer, Jordie A. J.; Goldfarb, David M.; Karakochuk, Crystal D.


Iron supplementation and fortification are used to treat iron deficiency, which is often associated with gastrointestinal conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Within the gut, commensal bacteria contribute to maintaining systemic iron homeostasis. Disturbances that lead to excess iron promote the replication and virulence of enteric pathogens. Consequently, research has been interested in better understanding the effects of iron supplementation and fortification on gut bacterial composition and overall gut health. While animal and human trials have shown seemingly conflicting results, these studies emphasize how numerous factors influence gut microbial composition. Understanding how different iron formulations and doses impact specific bacteria will improve the outcomes of iron supplementation and fortification in humans. Furthermore, discerning the nuances of iron supplementation and fortification will benefit subpopulations that currently do not respond well to treatment.

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