Did you know that according to the World Health Organisation, Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world?
The number are staggering:
2 billion people – over 30% of the world’s population are anaemic, many due to iron deficiency.
Recommended dietary iron intake
The average person needs to absorb just a small amount of iron each day to stay healthy (around 1 mg for adult males and 1.5 mg for menstruating females). To achieve this, however, we need to consume several times that amount. This is because our bodies absorb only a fraction of the iron contained in the foods we eat.
The Australian Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for iron is the amount of dietary iron required to meet the needs of most of the population. This amount is different for different age groups and life stages (See chart below).
For male and female aged 9 and over require 8mg per day on average to meet their recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron. For women aged 19-50, the RDA is 18mg per day (it's higher to compensate for menstrual losses).
High-risk groups for iron deficiency
Certain people are at increased risk of iron deficiency, including:
1. babies given cow’s or other milk instead of breastmilk or infant formula
2. toddlers, particularly if they drink too much cow’s milk
3. teenage girls
4. menstruating women, especially those who have heavy periods
5. women using an IUD (because they generally have heavier periods), pregnant or breastfeeding women
6. people with poor diets such as alcoholics, ‘fad dieters’ or people with eating disorders
7. vegetarians or vegans
8. regular blood donors
9. people with conditions that predispose them to bleeding, such as gum disease or stomach ulcers, polyps or cancers of the bowel
10. people with chronic diseases such as cancer, auto-immune diseases, heart failure or renal (kidney) disease
11. people taking aspirin as a regular medication
12. people who have a lower than normal ability to absorb or use iron, such as someone with coeliac disease.
Do you need iron supplement?
If you’re diagnosed with iron deficiency anaemia, iron supplementations would be beneficial. Without adequate levels of iron, your red blood cells cannot deliver oxygen to your cells and tissues effectively.
Symptoms of anaemia include:
If you experienced any of the symptoms above due to low iron levels, it is important to start take iron supplement to help boost your iron levels while incorporate iron-rich foods into your meals. It’s highly recommended to seek professional help to manage your iron deficiency and treat the underlying cause of the problem. The first concern is bleeding, as can occur from normal menstrual flow, or from abnormal conditions, such as an colon or peptic ulcer cancer, that require further investigation.
Women who are pregnant require significantly more iron. The RDA of iron for pregnant women is 27mg per day according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Prenatal multivitamins with added iron would be beneficial during pregnancy period.
If you need further help with boosting your iron levels and other important nutrients, our BBDiet dietitian could provide you the best support possible with personalised nutrition plan that suits your personal needs and preferences.
Click here to find out more how a dietitian could help you with.