World iron awareness week
Feeling tired and irritable? It could be more than just the daily grind that’s getting you down.
At a time where diseases of overabundance are rife, dietary iron, a key essential mineral goes short in the diets of many across the globe, particularly New Zealand women aged 15-50 years.
Iron deficiency is recognised by the World Health Organisation as the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. It is the only nutrient deficiency which affects people in both developing and developed countries, including New Zealand where it comes down to a lack of dietary intake.
WHO estimates over 30% or 2 billion of the world’s population are anaemic, many due to iron deficiency, with infectious diseases intensifying the condition in developing countries.
It’s not only New Zealand women that are affected by a low iron status, research has shown 8 out 10 toddlers don’t meet the recommended daily intake of dietary iron.
The World Iron Awareness Week campaign, which was initiated last year in New Zealand, has now gone global. Check out http://www.ironweek.co.nz/ for practical steps for improving iron levels and how to recognise the signs of low iron which can present as tiredness, irritability and lack of focus.
- Over a third of teenage girls don’t achieve their daily iron requirements.
- 1 in 14 women are low in iron.
- 8 out of 10 toddlers don’t meet the recommended daily intake of dietary iron.
- At 7 months, a baby needs more iron than her dad. Iron is crucial for brain development in babies and toddlers.
- In developing countries every second pregnant woman and about 40% of preschool children are estimated to be anaemic.
- The major health consequences include poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children and reduced work productivity in adults. Anaemia contributes to 20% of all maternal deaths.1
- There are two types of iron in food: haem iron (found in meat and fish) and non-haem iron (found mainly in plants). The body absorbs the haem iron in meat much more efficiently than the non-haem iron in plant foods. For example ½ cup of cooked silverbeet contains 1.0 mg of iron, but the body can only use about 5% of this. In comparison, 120g of cooked lean beef contains at least 3.0 mg of iron and the body absorbs around 25% of it. You would need to eat over 1kg of cooked silverbeet to get the same amount of iron provided by just 120g of lean meat. This equates to a small serving of spaghetti bolognaise or a couple small lamb leg steaks.