Iron absorption from 3.38 mg 58Fe was measured in riboflavin-deficient Gambian men with haemoglobin (Hb) less than 11.5 g/dl before and after oral riboflavin therapy, and the results compared with a group not receiving riboflavin. Riboflavin status (as determined by erythrocyte glutathione reductase activation coefficient) and Hb increased in the riboflavin-supplemented but not placebo group. Plasma ferritin levels were low and did not change in either group. There was very wide variation in percentage iron absorption between individuals and also within single individuals on two separate occasions but no measurable change with riboflavin supplementation. The results of the study indicate that the efficiency of iron utilization is impaired in riboflavin deficiency, but that iron absorption is unaffected.

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