Open Access Open Badges Research

Iron status is inversely associated with dietary iron intakes in patients with inactive or mildly active inflammatory bowel disease

Jonathan J Powell1*, William B Cook1, Mark Chatfield1, Carol Hutchinson1, Dora IA Pereira1 and Miranda CE Lomer23

Author Affiliations

1 MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge, CB1 9NL, UK

2 Department of Gastroenterology, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

3 King’s College London, Nutritional Sciences Division, London, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

Nutrition & Metabolism 2013, 10:18  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-18

Published: 1 February 2013



Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) frequently appear iron deplete but whether this is a reflection of dietary iron intakes is not known.


Dietary data were collected from 29 patients with inactive or mildly-active IBD and 28 healthy controls using a validated food frequency questionnaire that measured intakes of iron and its absorption modifiers. Non-haem iron availability was estimated using a recently developed algorithm. Subjects were classified for iron status based upon data from a concomitant and separately published study of iron absorption. Absorption was used to define iron status because haematological parameters are flawed in assessing iron status in inflammatory conditions such as IBD.


Dietary intakes of total iron, non-haem iron and vitamin C were significantly greater in IBD patients who were iron replete compared to those who were iron deplete (by 48%, 48% and 94% respectively; p≤0.05). The predicted percentage of available non-haem iron did not differ between these groups (19.7 ± 2.0% vs 19.3 ± 2.0% respectively; p=0.25). However, because of the difference in iron intake, the overall amount of absorbed iron did (2.4 ± 0.8 mg/d vs 1.7 ± 0.5 mg/d; p=0.013). No such differences were observed in the healthy control subjects.


In IBD, iron status is more closely related to the quality and quantity of dietary iron intake than in the general healthy population.

IBD; Iron deficiency anaemia; Iron intake; Diet; Food frequency questionnaire