Serum ferritin concentrations in Africans with low dietary iron

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In the setting of high dietary, several studies have provided evidence for a strong effect of both high dietary iron and an unidentified genetic locus on iron stores in Africans. To investigate whether these effects are discernible in the setting of low dietary iron, serum ferritin concentrations were measured in 194 Zimbabwean men >30 years of age and 299 postmenopausal women who consumed a non-iron-fortified diet and who did not drink iron-rich traditional beer or other alcoholic beverages. Comparisons were made with non-alcohol drinking African-Americans studied in the third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES III) who consume an iron-fortified diet. As stratified by age and sex, serum ferritin concentrations were significantly lower in the 493 Zimbabweans studied than in 1,380 comparable African-Americans (P < 0.0005). Nevertheless, nine Zimbabwean subjects (1.8% of all cases) had modestly elevated serum ferritin concentrations not associated with evidence of inflammation or hepatic dysfunction. These data suggest that mild serum ferritin concentration elevations may occur among Zimbabweans not exposed to high dietary iron and that iron fortification of the diet may have substantial effects on serum ferritin concentration. © Springer-Verlag 2009.

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