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Dairy products as essential sources of iodine in the Swiss population...

Defining sources, variability and bioavailability of iodine in milk and dairy products

Iodine deficiency is estimated by WHO to be the leading cause of preventable mental retardation worldwide. Along with iodized salt, milk and dairy products are the main iodine sources in Switzerland, supplying more than half of intakes. Without this important contribution, the Swiss population would be iodine deficient. However, dairy products are an unpredictable source, as the iodine concentrations of milk varies widely between seasons and production methods. The objective of this project is to identify key factors that influence iodine content of cow’s milk and during milk processing and to assess iodine absorption in humans. Through the postulation of feeding recommendations for dairy cows and revised guidelines for milking and dairy processing, the project’s overall aim is to achieve standardized iodine concentrations in milk and dairy products, in order to ensure that the iodine intake by the Swiss population is adequate, thus avoiding both deficiency and excess.

Funding: Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office, Bern, CH; World Food System Center-Coop Research Grant

Maternal iron absorption and utilization and iron transfer to the fetus during pregnancy...

... in normal weight and overweight/obese women and the effects on infant iron status

Overweight and obesity causes low-grade systemic inflammation, which sharply increases risk for iron deficiency. Whether maternal obesity during pregnancy impairs absorption and transfer of iron to the fetus, thereby increasing the risk for iron deficiency in the mother and the infant is unclear. The aim of the study is therefore to determine the impact of maternal overweight and obesity on iron absorption in pregnancy and on the transfer of iron to the fetus and thus on iron status of the newborn and infant.

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation, Bern, CH

A novel, high-precision stable iron isotope method...

... for the evaluation of iron metabolism in humans and for monitoring the effectiveness of programs to improve iron nutrition

At present, efforts to correct and prevent iron deficiency are hindered by the unreliability of current indicators of iron status in the presence of infection and inflammation. Therefore, new means of evaluating the effectiveness of programs to improve iron nutrition are urgently needed to guide public health policy. This project aims to develop a novel reference method using stable isotope dilution for an accurate and unbiased assessment of iron metabolism and for the monitoring of programs to improve iron nutrition in regions with a high prevalence of infection and inflammation.

Funding: ETH Research Grant, Zurich, CH

Nanoscale iron compounds: gastrointestinal absorption mechanisms

This project aims to determine the intestinal absorption pathways critical for iron uptake from nanoscale compounds in food. Iron bioavailability and red blood cell generation will be monitored in a mouse model of anemia using isotopic labelling techniques.

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation, Bern, CH

Estimating iodine intake from spot urinary iodine concentrations...

... to obtain the prevalence of inadequate or excess usual iodine intake in school-aged children and adults

The objective of this study is to develop a novel and innovative method to monitor iodine status in school-aged children and women of reproductive age for application in iodine nutrition surveys. The project evaluates the use of the estimated average requirement (EAR) cut-point method to obtain prevalence of inadequate and excessive iodine intake from UIC distributions obtained from iodine surveys.

Funding: The Iodine Global Network, Ottawa, Canada; UNICEF, Nutrition Unit, New York, US

Assessment of dried blood spot thyroglobulin in pregnant women...

... to redefine the range of median urinary iodine concentration that indicates adequate iodine intake (STRIPE)

Recent data suggest that the currently recommended WHO range for median urinary iodine concentration of 150-249 μg/L used to indicate optimal iodine nutrition during pregnancy may be too high and possibly to narrow. The objective of this study is to define the optimal range for median UIC defining adequate iodine nutrition in pregnant women for application in iodine nutrition surveys. We will conduct cross-sectional studies in pregnant women from countries with a broad range of iodine status from low to high and obtain data on urinary iodine concentration and thyroid function.

Funding: The Iodine Global Network, Ottawa, Canada; UNICEF, Nutrition Unit, New York, US

The mothers, infants and lactation quality (MILQ) project: A multi-center collaborative study

This project aims to establish reference values for micronutrients and macronutrients in human milk. A longitudinal study in well-nourished lactating women and infants is being conducted in four countries by a consortium of nutrition researchers under the lead of Prof Lindsay Allen, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Davis, USA. Our group participates as experts on iodine nutrition.

Funding: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Sustainable prevention and control of iodine deficiency disorders...

... in Eastern and Southern Africa (SPEAR)

This multi-center study evaluates the determinants of excess iodine intake and the effects of high iodine status on thyroid function in breastfed infants, weaning infants, school-age children, women of reproductive age, pregnant and lactating women in Eastern Africa.

Funding: UNICEF East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya

The Swiss national iodine study in children, women of reproductive age and pregnant women

This study assesses iodine status in school-age children, women of reproductive age and pregnant women and evaluates the impact of increasing the salt iodine content from 20 to 25 mg/kg. The project also determines iron status and folate status among women of reproductive age and pregnant women as well as urinary fluoride concentration in children.

Funding: Federal Food Safety & Veterinary Office, Bern, CH

Salt iodization and the 1st 1000 days...

Does a universal salt iodization program cover the iodine requirement of pregnant and lactating women and infants?

The objective of this multi-center study is to evaluate whether universal salt iodization can meet the physiological dietary requirements of iodine in women of reproductive age, pregnant women, lactating women and infants up to 2 years of age without causing excess iodine intake in school children and non-pregnant non-lactating women. We conduct cross-sectional studies in three areas with well-established salt iodization programs and obtain data on urinary iodine concentration and thyroid function.

Funding: Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Geneva, CH

Evaluation of the nutritional viability of zinc biofortified wheat

Biofortification is the selective enrichment of micronutrients in the edible parts of crops. The aim of this project is to investigate zinc absorption and biological impact in humans of zinc biofortified wheat produced with foliar zinc application. A series of studies using stable isotopic zinc labels will be conducted in generally healthy Swiss subjects. The results will be used to design a prospective randomized controlled trial in Indian Schoolchildren, I collaboration with the St.John's National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore.

Funding: Harvest Plus, Washington, DC, USA

Enhancing the efficacy of iron fortified rice

Iron fortification of rice is considered to have a large potential to reach iron deficient, rice eating populations, but rice fortification is technically challenging, as rice is consumed as intact grains and is of white color. A series of studies will investigate iron absorption from iron fortified rice produced with iron absorption enhancers such as citrate/trisodium citrate and different processing methods (coating, hot and cold extrusion) and co-fortification with zinc.

Funding: Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Geneva, CH; World Food Program/US Department of Agriculture; PATH, Seattle, USA; Abbott Nutrition, Lake Forest, IL, USA; DSM, Basel, CH.

Optimizing iron supplementation using hepcidin profiles

Iron supplementation is the method of choice to treat iron deficiency, but there is no consensus on the optimal dosing regimen. Hepcidin is considered the central regulatory hormone for iron metabolism. In this series of studies, hepcidin profiles after iron supplementation will be characterized in iron depleted females and used to devise an optimized supplementation schedule.

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation, Bern, CH

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