Iron, Infection and Anemia

Micronutrient deficiencies, frequently described as ‘hidden hunger’, are widespread in poor populations consuming diets lacking in variety and in animal products, and have numerous detrimental effects on health and development. MRC Keneba has a long history of research into the functional consequences of micronutrient deficiencies (especially vitamin A, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin C, iron and zinc) and the most effective means of combating these effects. Our current research efforts concentrate on optimal timing, mode of administration and functional advantages of multiple micronutrients (UNIMAP tablets and Lipid-Based Micronutrient Supplements); long-chain omega-3 PUFAs; and the challenges of safely administering iron to combat anaemia in malarious areas. Iron is at the centre of a battle-ground between the human host and its pathogens and, probably above all other micronutrients, is important in mediating infections. Excess iron can exacerbate many infections and for this reason it is difficult to design safe interventions aimed at correcting the very high levels of iron deficiency anaemia found in most poor nations. Overcoming this conundrum is an important part of our mission.

Selected ongoing studies:

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