‘Iron fortified rice can address increasing anemia’

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The rising incidence of Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) in the Ilocos Region can be addressed by adding iron-fortified rice to the local diet, The Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) said.

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IDA is a shortage of red blood cells (hemoglobin) in the body, and is commonly caused when the body’s own store of iron (in the liver) is used up due to the consumption of foods lacking in iron over a period of time.

A research study commissioned by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PRRI) found that Filipinos eat an average of 119 kg of rice per person annually. Thus rice plays a vital role in addressing health issues in the country, the DOST said.

Further research resulted in the development of Iron Rice Premix (IRP) and Iron Fortified Rice (IFR), which can help address health and nutrition issues plaguing the region, the DOST said.

IFR is a blend of well-milled rice and mineral iron in rice kernel form.

Importance of IFR in the body

IFR is the only type of rice blended with iron. Iron is one of the most important minerals in the body. As cited from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the significant function of iron is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin or red blood cells throughout the body so cells can produce energy. Thus, it enhances body strength, activates brain performance, and boosts body resistance against sickness. Iron also helps eliminate carbon dioxide from the body.

The recommended level of iron in the body is classified by gender and age. Males aging from 14 to 18 have a recommended daily intake of 11 mg, and aged 19 and above must have 8 mg daily intake. The daily intakes for females aged 14 to 18, 19 to 50, and 51 and above must have 15 mg, 18 mg, and 8 mg, respectively.

IFR is being adopted by several firms in the region through the DOST’s Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP) under the leadership of Director Armando Q. Ganal. One of its successful adopters is the Nutridense Food Manufacturing Corporation in Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan.

The company continues to expand its production of IFR through a partnership with other government agencies. Aside from IFR, it has also adopted other DOST-FNRI developed food technologies including Rice-Monggo (RIMO) curls, and Rice-Monggo Instant Baby Food blend. These developed food technologies are available in schools, relief areas and to the general public.

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