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Low iron levels a concern for women

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Low iron levels a concern for women

The number of Kiwi women suffering from iron deficiency has more than doubled in 12 years, according to the results of the Ministry of Health's 2008-9 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey, published this month. The results show low iron levels have risen to one in 14 adult women over 15 years old.

The survey of nearly 5000 New Zealand adults is the largest 'snapshot' of nutritional status and dietary intake since 1997.

"Iron deficiency and low iron intakes are of concern, as a poor iron status can have far-reaching consequences. Symptoms such as general tiredness and irritability through to increasingly frequent infections are common. Women entering pregnancy short of iron are also putting themselves and their unborn babies at risk," says Fiona Carruthers, Nutrition Manager, Beef + Lamb New Zealand. "In a land of plenty, it is alarming to see nutritional deficiencies, but we are pleased to see New Zealand beef and lamb continue to make an important contribution to the Kiwi diet, providing a range of essential nutrients as part of a healthy balanced diet," added Carruthers.

The survey showed red meat, particularly beef, still provides the main source of the more easily-absorbed iron, called haem iron. Encouragingly, this now comes with less fat and saturated fat; red meat's contribution to intakes of both falling to 6.8% and 7.3% respectively. In addition, 62% of those surveyed were regularly or always trimming visible fat from meat, compared to 48% removing the skin from chicken.

Red meat also remains the leading provider of zinc to the diet of adult Kiwis, as well as a significant source of vitamin B12. In line with national and international recommendations, almost half of those surveyed were eating red meat 3-4 times a week.

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