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A newly published study conducted among female factory workers in Mexico has found that PATH-developed Ultra Rice grains dramatically boosted the amount of iron in women’s systems.

The study, conducted in 2005 but published for the first time in the latest edition of Food and Nutrition Bulletin, found that the iron-fortified, rice-like grains reduced the prevalence of anemia among women by 80 percent and also caused a 29 percent drop in the prevalence of iron deficiency. The study is among a growing body of research showing that Ultra Rice is an effective vehicle for combating iron deficiency.    

Rice nearly doubles iron intake

Ultra Rice is iron-fortified, simulated rice that is made from a compound of rice flour and micronutrients. This doughy compound is extruded through a press much like pasta, formed into rice-shaped grains, and dried. PATH and Bon Dente International have collaborated to make the cost-efficient grains, which harbor the possibility of a healthier, productive future for many in the developing world who don’t get enough nutrients in their current diets.

In the study—conducted by the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica and PATH—women from six different factories in the Mexican state of Morelos ate a mixture of the fortified rice and regular, polished rice five days a week as part of their regular diet. The study was randomized and blinded-to-participants with a placebo control.

The women receiving iron-fortified rice had an 80 percent reduction in the prevalence of anemia and a 29 percent drop in the prevalence of iron deficiency. Data from the National Nutrition Survey of Mexico in 1999 showed that the average daily intake of iron for women in central Mexico was 8.4 mg/day. The intervention of Ultra Rice grains provided an intake of 13 mg/day, nearly doubling the iron intake of women who participated in the study.   

World loses work force due to lack of iron

Women with insufficient amounts of iron suffer from poor health, which can lead to the impaired ability to work and earn a living. Productivity losses due to iron deficiency have been reflected in the gross domestic product of many countries.    

Commercial companies in Brazil, Colombia, and India are learning how to make Ultra Rice, and government agencies in those countries and in China are exploring opportunities to adopt it in public-sector programs.

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®Ultra Rice is a registered trademark of Bon Dente International in the United States.

Posted July 24, 2008.