oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Effect of traditional beer consumption on the iron status of a rural South African population
Objective. To determine the effect of traditional beer consumption on the iron status of rural black subjects.
Design. A cross-sectional study was undertaken.
Setting. Dikgale field site and the surrounding villages in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Subjects. Eight hundred and forty-four non-alcohol consumers (738 women and 106 men) and 280 alcohol consumers (163 women and 117 men) aged 30 years and above, participated in the study.
Outcome measures. Outcome measures included alcohol consumption, serum ferritin levels, percentage transferrin saturation, total iron-binding capacity, haemoglobin and C-reactive protein levels.
Results. Traditional beer fermented in either iron pots or plastic containers was found to have iron levels ranging from 15 mg/l to 67.8 mg/l and 6 mg/l to 17 mg/l, respectively. Iron status as measured by serum ferritin, serum iron, percentage transferrin saturation, and haemoglobin levels was significantly higher in alcohol consumers than in non-consumers, even after adjustment for age and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. A high percentage of women (12.3%) and men (8.2%) consuming alcohol had iron overload.
Conclusion. This study showed that consumption of traditional beer in a non-urban population in Limpopo Province was associated with high levels of markers of iron status. Traditional beer consumption seemed to prevent iron deficiency in those at risk of developing such deficiency, but appeared to precipitate iron overload in those at risk of developing iron overload.
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