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The soybean plant (Glycine max belongs to the Iamily Leguminosae. It is native to
tropical and warm temperate regions oI Asia, where it has been cultivated as a principal crop Ior
at least 5,000 years. There are over 2,500 varieties in cultivation, producing beans oI many
sizes, shapes, and colors. As a crop, soybeans are high in yield and easy to harvest; they grow
well in a wide range oI soils, with optimum growth in moist alluvial soils with a good organic
content. (Lager, 2011. Processed soybean products (miso, tamari, soy milk and toIu are
especially consumed in Asian cultures.$oybeans are the only legume in which a liquid can be
extracted to produce "soy milk" "soy drink".
$oybeans contain all three oI the macro-nutrients required Ior good nutrition: complete
protein, carbohydrate and Iat, as well as vitamins and minerals including calcium, Iolic acid and
iron. $oy protein provides all the essential amino acids in the amounts needed Ior human health.
In addition, soybeans are also a major source oI iron. Iron is essential Ior the production oI
hemoglobin in red blood cells. Poor dietary iron intake or excessive loss oI iron Irom the body
leads to iron deIiciency anemia which is the most common cause oI anemia in children. Iron
deIiciency anemia can aIIect children at any age, but it is most commonly seen in children less
than two years oI age, and in teens, particularly in adolescent girls who have started
menstruating. In inIants and preschool children, iron-deIiciency anemia can result in
developmental delays and behavioral disturbances, such as decreased motor activity and
problems with social interaction (Glorioso,2004.
$oybeans are consumed as an important source oI high-quality vegetable protein in many
parts oI the world, especially in places where iron deIiciency is prevalent. Unlike other plants,
soybeans store most oI their iron in a Iorm called Ierritin that is more readily absorbed y the body
(Potera, 2011. In one study conducted, eighteen women with marginal iron deIiciency were Ied
meals containing soybeans. Iron absorption was measured. The iron in the soybeans appeared to
be well-absorbed, suggesting that soybeans can be a good source oI iron Ior people with a
marginal deIiciency. Another research Irom Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in
CaliIornia and Pennsylvania $tate University studied 18 women, all borderline iron-deIicient,
who ate soybean-based soup and muIIins made with soy Ilour. When the amount oI iron taken up
by their red blood cells was measured 28 days later, about 27 percent oI the iron had been
absorbed, a much higher percentage than is absorbed Irom Ioods with low Ierritin, such as wheat
and corn (Potera, 2011.
Dietary iron deIiciency and anemia aIIlict 1.5 billion people worldwide. Anemia occurs
when the body isn't able to produce enough healthy red blood cells. This can happen because oI
deIiciency oI the mineral iron. It can also be due to inherited deIects or diseases that interIere
with the production oI red blood cells. Prolonged blood loss in minute amounts, due to parasitic
inIection, such as hookworm can also cause anemia (Glorioso, 2004.
The World Health Organization deIines iron-deIiciency anaemia as a condition whereby
either individual haemoglobin levels are two standard deviations below the distribution mean, or
more than 5 oI a given population has haemoglobin levels that are two standard deviations
below the distribution mean, in an otherwise normal population oI individuals Irom the same
gender and age, living at the same altitude. $igniIicant public health implications are more
commonly associated with moderate to severe anaemia, deIined as haemoglobin level below
10g/dL (WHO, 2011.
The most common sign oI iron deIiciency and other types oI nutritional anemia is mild
paleness oI the skin, along with decreased pinkness oI the lips, the lining oI the eyelids, and the
nail beds. Other common signs oI anemia may include irritability, Iatigue dizziness,
ligthheadedness, and rapid heartbeat (Glorioso, 2004.

M M Lager 1be usefol 5oybeoo (1943) ! Pouck eL al 5oybeoos ooJ 1belt ltoJocts (1972)
Carol Potera "$oy Iights iron deIiciency - Eat Right News". $hape. 28 Nov,
Murray-Kolb LE, Welch R, Theil EC, Beard JL. 2003. Women with low iron stores absorb iron
Irom soybeans. Am J Clin Nutr 77:180-4.
Jorld PealLh CrganlzaLlon naLlonal sLraLegles for overcomlng mlcronuLrlenL malnuLrlLlon Ceneva
JPC 1992 (uocumenL A43/3)
World Health Organization, Iron DeIiciency Anaemia: Assessment, Prevention and ControlA
Guide Ior Programme Managers, World Health Organization, Geneva, $witzerland, 2001.