A form of table salt manufactured to contain iron can fight off anemia among children, nutrition researchers working in North Africa have shown. That advance could expand the role of salt fortification, already an important global tool against iodine deficiency.
Scientists have long considered salt to be an ideal vehicle for delivering nutrients because it's cheap and nearly all people consume it daily. In recent decades, most governments have required iodization of salt, which has reduced the worldwide prevalence of mental retardation from iodine deficiency.
Adding iron to salt has proved a more enduring challenge. One chemical form, ferrous iron, causes reactions that eliminate iodine, turn salt yellow-brown, and sometimes produce a rusty taste. Ferric iron, the other form of the metal, generally lacks those drawbacks, but its particles are too large to be absorbed well by the body.