British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Supplementation of iron alone and combined with vitamins improves haematological status, erythrocyte membrane fluidity and oxidative stress in anaemic pregnant women

Ai Guo Maa1 c1, Evert G. Schoutena2, Yong Ye Suna1, Fang Yanga3, Xiu Xia Hana1, Feng Zhi Zhanga4, Dian Chen Jianga5 and Frans J. Koka2

a1 The Institute of Human Nutrition, Medical College of Qingdao University, Qingdao, People's Republic of China

a2 Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

a3 The College of Liaocheng Technology, Liaocheng, Shandong province, People's Republic of China

a4 The People's Hospital of Liaocheng, Liaocheng, Shandong province, People's Republic of China

a5 Service Center for Children and Women, Shen County, Shandong province, People's Republic of China


Pregnancy is a condition exhibiting increased susceptibility to oxidative stress, and Fe plays a central role in generating harmful oxygen species. The objective of the present study is to investigate the changes in haematological status, oxidative stress and erythrocyte membrane fluidity in anaemic pregnant women after Fe supplementation with and without combined vitamins. The study was a 2 months double-blind, randomised trial. Pregnant women (n 164) were allocated to four groups: group C was the placebo control group; group I was supplemented daily with 60 mg Fe (ferrous sulphate) daily; group IF was supplemented daily with Fe plus 400 μg folic acid; group IM was supplemented daily with Fe plus 2 mg retinol and 1 mg riboflavin, respectively. After the 2-month trial, Hb significantly increased by 15·8, 17·3 and 21·8 g/l, and ferritin by 2·8, 3·6 and 11·0 μg/l, in the I, IF and IM groups compared with placebo. Polarisation (ρ) and microviscosity (η) decreased significantly in other groups compared with placebo, indicating an increase in membrane fluidity. Significant decreases of ρ and η values compared with group C were 0·033 and 0·959 for group I, 0·037 and 1·074 for group IF and 0·064 and 1·865 for group IM, respectively. In addition, significant increases of glutathione peroxidase activities and decreases of malondialdehyde were shown in all treated groups, as well as increases of plasma retinol and urine riboflavin in group IM. The findings show that supplementation with Fe and particularly in combination with vitamins could improve the haematological status as well as oxidative stress and erythrocyte membrane fluidity.

(Received October 19 2009)

(Revised May 05 2010)

(Accepted June 01 2010)

(Online publication July 09 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor A. G. Ma, fax +86 532 83812434, email


Abbreviations: C group, placebo control group; GSH-Px, glutathione peroxidase; I group, group supplemented daily with Fe; IF group, group supplemented daily with Fe and folic acid; IM group, group supplemented daily with Fe, folic acid, retinol and riboflavin; MDA, malondialdehyde; SOD, superoxide dismutase; η, microviscosity; ρ, polarisation