Iron Up


It may come as a surprise that despite having large volumes of nutrition information readily available, as well as plenty of food, many Australian women still have low iron levels. In fact, as many as one in four women may be experiencing the symptoms of iron deficiency, including extreme fatigue, irritability and low energy and mood on a daily basis. The most ironic fact of all when it comes to iron deficient may be that it is often not those who do not eat red meat who are most likely to have low stores of iron. Rather, sporadic meat eaters who enjoy iron rich beef or lamb just once or twice each week are far more likely to deplete their iron stores over time and suffer the effects of low iron. 


Iron is used in the body to transport oxygen to the cells. The body; being the highly functioning machine that it is, stores a certain amount of iron to ensure that some is available when dietary intake is low. If dietary intake is chronically low, over time these stores will become depleted. If the iron stores in the body have been depleted to such an extent that there is not enough to allow oxygen to be transported, full iron deficiency anemia results. Research has indicates that individuals will feel physical effects of low iron, even if their blood levels are normal but their stores are low.

Iron is present in a wide number of foods including both red meat, chicken fish, whole grains and leafy green vegetables but the amounts of iron absorbed varies widely between foods. Non-haem iron found in plant foods is not particularly well absorbed compared to haem iron, found in lean red meat. For individuals who do not regularly any type of meat, chicken or fish, their body will be much more used to absorbing iron from plant based foods such as grain bread and fortified breakfast cereal. Meat eaters though need to make a concerted effort to expose their body to well absorbed forms of iron, even in relatively small quantities at least 3-4 times each week to ensure that they give their body’s the opportunity to absorb the iron they need of optimal energy production. 

 Iron in Food  mg iron
 200g steak  7.0
 1 cup mince  5
 1 chicken breast  2.0
 Fish fillet  1
 1/2 cup baked beans  2.2
 Slice grain bread  1
 Breakfast cereal with iron  3
 6 oysters  3.5
 1/2 cup spinach  0.6



 Daily Iron Requirements  mg/day
 Babies (7-12 months)  11
 1-3 years  9
 4-8 years  10
 9-13 years  8
 14-18 years boys  11
 14-18 years girls  15
 > 18 years males  8
 18-50 year female  18
 >50 year female  8
 Pregnancy  27
 Breastfeeding  9



Susie Burrell

Please note: This blog aims to supply user-friendly nutrition information for busy people without comprising on food taste and quality but should be used as a guide only and not in place of advice from your own dietitian or medical specialist. For further information on this topic, please consult your health professional. The content of this blog, including attachments, may be privileged and confidential. Any un-authorised use of this content is expressly prohibited. Any views that are expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender expressly, and with authority, states them to be the views of Susie Burrell Pty Ltd.
Category: Nutrition

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