Are you getting enough iron?

The 28th of August marks the start of World Iron Awareness Week, highlighting the importance of iron in our diets. Iron deficiency remains an issue in New Zealand, with one in 14 New Zealand women low in iron, and 8 out of 10 toddlers and over a 1/3 of teenage girls not meeting their daily intake of dietary iron.


Why do we need iron?

1. It carries oxygen around the body

2. It supports a healthy immune system

3. It’s essential to  produce energy from food


How do you know if your short of iron?

Many of the symptoms are often put down to being ‘busy’ or having another winter bug. But any of the following, could be signs you’re low in iron:  

- Feeling tired

- Feeling grumpy

- Lacking concentration

- Frequently getting ill

- Feeling the cold

If you think this might be you, the way to check, is to see your doctor and arrange a blood test.


Four tips to increase your iron intake

1. Eat red meat (like New Zealand pork) and vegetables together.

By combining the two your body can absorb up to four times as much of the non-haem iron (which is the iron found in vegetables that is not as easy for the body to absorb). Try a stir fry or make sure your lunch time sarnie includes lean meat and salad.

2. Keep up the Vitamin C

This wonderful vitamin helps our body to absorb non-haem iron from a meal. It is found in a number of fruit and vegetables including citrus fruits, capsicum, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.

3. Aim for 3 red meat meals per week

The Ministry of Health suggests adults can enjoy 350-500g of cooked, lean red meat across 3 meals per week. Red meats like New Zealand pork are generally richer in haem iron than white meat, poultry and fish. Try these pork steak tacos as a great source of lean NZ pork

4. Keep the tannins away from your meals

Tannins found in tea, and to a lesser extent coffee, reduce the iron we absorb from a meal. So, you’ll be better off keeping your tea and coffee for between meals.

For more information about World Iron Awareness Week, further tips on increasing your iron intake, and resources to learn more, click here

You can learn more about all the nutritional benefits of NZ pork here

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