Fucoidan was extracted from the seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum with boiling water and purified by repeated precipitation steps. Increasing doses of fucoidan (1.2--200 mg) were injected together with 360 nmol 59Fe-(FeCl3) or 60Co-(CoCl2) into tied-off jejunal segments of two groups of rats fed either a normal (160 mg Fe/kg) or a low iron diet (5 mg/kg). Fucoidan together with 360 nmol 54Mn-(MnCl2) or 65Zn-(ZnCl2) was administered in the same manner in rats fed a normal diet only. Fucoidan administered in doses above 30 mg decreased the absorption of iron, cobalt, manganese and zinc in normal rats, and the absorption of iron and cobalt in iron-deficient rats. This inhibitory effect of fucoidan on the absorption of heavy metals is apparently the consequence of the formation of metal complexes which are poorly absorbed from the intestinal lumen.
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