Heme iron in meat as the main source of iron in the human diet

Wydanie: 1 / 2016


  • Buzała M., Słomka A., Janicki B.

Kategorie: Food science , Review paper

DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2015.20.1.850


Iron is a trace element involved in many cardinal metabolic processes of almost all living organisms. It is well known that iron participates in oxygen transport as well as it is a cofactor in many fundamental enzymatic and nonenzymatic processes. Accordingly, disturbances of iron homeostasis can cause serious clinical consequences. In humans, dietary iron can enter the body in two main forms: heme and nonheme. The former is a component of many hemoproteins (including myoglobin, hemoglobin, cytochromes b and c) and is easily absorbed in the duodenal enterocytes. Red meat is an excellent source of heme iron, while the less bioavailable nonheme form is found in large amounts in milk products and vegetables. For this reason, consumers of meat have a better iron status than vegetarians and vegans. The aim of this paper was to discuss the role of heme iron in the human diet. Heme iron found in muscle protein should be supplied to humans to prevent iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia. It is easily absorbed by the human body and its main source is red meat. In addition, heme iron, which is mainly found in myoglobin in meat, contributes to the desirable bright red color and to the most undesirable brown color of meat. Both heme and nonheme iron are catalysts of lipid oxidation in meat. This process lowers the nutritive value through oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which produces an undesirable flavor and aroma. The present review is focused on the role of heme iron, which is mainly found in meat and is the principal source of iron in the human diet.


Buzała M., Słomka A., Janicki B. 2016. Heme iron in meat as the main source of iron in the human diet. J. Elem., 21(1): 303 - 314, DOI: 10.5601/jelem.2015.20.1.850

Słowa kluczowe:

iron, meat, lipid oxidation, metabolism, meat color

O wydaniu:


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