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Crop Biotech Update

Zinc in Biofortified Wheat Helps Meet Micronutrient Requirement in Women

August 13, 2010

Just 300 grams of wheat flour can provide two-thirds of the physiological zinc requirements of adult women. This was the major finding of a feeding study that showed wheat bred for high zinc content raises the intake of this vital micronutrient. The study The quantity of zinc absorbed from wheat in adult women is enhanced by biofortification was published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Through a strategy called biofortification, zinc is being bred into wheat. This is a viable alternative to help solve zinc deficiency which kills more than 400,000 children annually and stunts millions more. A team of researchers with the HarvestPlus Challenge Program fed a group of Mexican women in a controlled feeding trial with tortillas made from zinc-biofortified wheat flour. The team found substantially higher intake of bioavailable zinc from the zinc-biofortified wheat.

More long term feeding trials will be conducted in regions where farmers will grow zinc-biofortified wheat to account for environmental conditions that may affect the zinc content of wheat. "We also need to determine the appropriateness of existing models for determining zinc absorption at different levels of phytate intake for children, because most studies so far have focused on adults," says Erick Boy, head of nutrition in HarvestPlus. "Children, as you know, are most vulnerable to micronutrient malnutrition."

See the CGIAR release at  http://www.cgiar.org/monthlystory/august_4_2010.html