WHO estimates that 6-25% of the population are deficient in the micronutrient IRON.
As a healthy female I am in a higher risk group for this deficiency - along with 50% of the population. (FYI the average amount of blood a female loses during those few days each month 20 tsps ... that’s 1.2 litres a year or 3.5 coke cans ... of blood), so during that time the body can become a little depleted in iron stores. If growth is occurring, or combat/high impact sport is participated in, risk of iron deficiency anaemia increase further.
The sky rocket of popularity in veganism & plant based diets alongside the push to decrease processed meat has meant the improvement in diet quality; however may have increased risk of IDA.
I recommended if you’re constantly feeling tired and cold, request a blood test. . If iron levels are sub optimal, even if IDA is not diagnosed I would recommended making a few dietary changes, remembering it can take 12-16 weeks to improve iron status.
🍍 Increase haem iron sources - these are easy for the body to absorb. Personally I’ll eat 2-3 small portions of high quality red meat around the week of menses when the need is higher but I prefer sardines and non harm sources of iron at other times.
🍍 Increase non haem iron sources - these are not absorbed quite as well as haem (meat) sources but can still support preventing deficiency - wholegrains, beans, lentils and green leafy vegetables. Try to eat 1-2 times daily. 🍍 Absorption can be increased by including enhancers when eating iron containing foods - so haem iron will increase non haem iron absorption (small portioned of beef mince in a bean chilli) and vitamin C will also support absorption.
🍍 Minimise intake of iron inhibitors - so try to avoid foods containing calcium when consuming iron rich foods (no milk with your spag bowl please 🤔), minimal wine, tea and coffee within a couple of hours of eating iron rich foods too.
Research shows that in severe IDA a supplement may be required, but these can have side effects. A FOOD FIRST approach is always best for deficiency prevention.