Ultra Rice® highly effective in boosting iron stores in young children

January 2010

Researchers conducted a double-blind, randomized trial in Brazil to determine the relative efficacy of iron drops and iron-fortified rice in curing mild anemia in children aged 6–24 months. Two groups of children received either iron drops and 10 kilograms of unfortified rice per month (control group) or placebo drops and 10 kilograms of an iron-fortified rice produced using the Ultra Rice® technology and fortified at a level that would provide an iron dose equivalent to drops. Primary health care workers gave both groups of mothers instructions on using the drops but no instructions on how much rice to feed their children. 

Results published in the Journal of Nutrition in January 2010 indicate that Ultra Rice was well accepted and undistinguishable from unfortified rice. After five months, hemoglobin and serum ferritin, a measure of iron stores, improved in both groups, but the improvements were greater in the Ultra Rice group. Anemia decreased by approximately 38% in the Ultra Rice group and by 15% in the control group. Similarly, iron deficiency decreased by 44% in the Ultra Rice group compared to only 24% among controls. 

While iron drops contain more absorbable iron, the authors hypothesize that the better results in the Ultra Rice group may be due to higher adherence with rice than drops, or because iron provided in small frequent doses from Ultra Rice was better absorbed than iron provided in larger less frequent doses from drops. The authors conclude that the low-cost, feasible, and efficacious technology of Ultra Rice could be part of a strategy to control anemia in rice-eating populations, noting that even though the iron level of the product used in the study was somewhat high, it is nonetheless safe for the general population and the strategy would not require separate iron-fortified foods for adults and young children.

Iron-Fortified Rice Is As Efficacious As Supplemental Iron Drops in Infants and Young Children