Prevention of maternal death by improving iron status of women through iron fortification of tea
Iron deficiency is a major contributor to maternal death. Improving the health of women through iron fortification of a universally consumed food vehicle will result in significant saving of lives at birth. Tea is universally consumed in South Asia; however iron forms complexes in tea, reducing bioavailability, and thus thwarting earlier fortification attempts. Our approach will make tea viable as an iron fortification vehicle. We will develop spray-encapsulated iron premix that will be attached to tea leaves, and released into hot water during brewing, without altering the tea's sensory attributes. Iron will be encapsulated in enteric coating to prevent formation of non-bioavailable tannin complex in the stomach, the coating will dissolve in the small intestines to expose a high bioavailability self-emulsifying iron delivery system. Our innovations are: (1) the encapsulation/microemulsion approach which protects iron in the stomach and enhances absorption in the lower GI, and (2) using tea as the fortification vehicle which will ease adoption because no user behavior change will be required.