Iron deficiency

One of the most important mineral in the body is Iron which is found in every cell.

 Importance of iron

  • Boost immune system and helps fight infections
  • Critical for normal child growth and brain development
  • Require for haemoglobin production in red blood cells which transports oxygen around the body

 

Conditions which can cause iron deficiency

  • Early Childhood - Rapid growth periods
  • Adolescence
  • Pregnancy
  • Medical conditions (heavy menstruation, haemorrhoids, gastrointestinal bleeding)
  • Frequent blood donation
  • Coeliac disease and other chronic malabsorption syndromes
  • Kidney failure
  • Vegetarians and people with poor diets lacking red meat
  • People who does regular intense exercise especially female or vegetarian

 Iron deficiency is most common among NZ children especially those from Maori and Pacific island background

 

Anaemia

This type of iron deficiency is common in women and preschool children

 Symptoms

Tiredness , pale complexion and weakness.

Shortness of breath, fast heart rate, fainting could also be found.

 Diagnosis

Blood test is require to determine iron deficiency which measures the amount of haemoglobin and iron in the blood

It is important to have proper diagnosis as too much iron can be toxic especially to children

 

2 Types of Iron and their food source

There are 2 types of iron, Haem iron and non-haem iron

  •  Haem Iron is the iron which is found in red blood cells,

Food sources include beef, lamb, Chicken, egg yolks and fish. Kidney and liver contains high amount of haem iron but should be avoided in pregnant women due to the high contents of Vitamin A which can cause birth defects. Meat based irons are well absorbed into the blood (30%)

  • Non-haem iron is found in plant based foods such as dried beans, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, breakfast cereals, flours and whole grains but less than 10% of plant based iron is absorbed into the blood.

Supplements

Iron supplements can be used to treat iron deficiency in some people when proper diagnosis from a blood test has been confirmed.

Pharmacy on web sells high iron supplements which includes Ferrograd and Ferrograd-C and low iron supplements such as Spatone, Carbonyl iron, Iron melts,

 

Avoiding iron deficiency

  • Ensure adequate dietary intake of rich haem iron foods
  • Take Vitamin C which increases the absorption of iron but avoid too much tea and coffee which reduces iron absorption
  • For the recommended amount of vitamin C to take according to age and gender, visit www.nutritionfoundation.org.nz