Other Health Issues

Get to know Iron Deficiency Anaemia

Function of iron

The main function of iron is to produce heme in the body.

Heme is an essential element of red blood cell and is responsible for transporting oxygen to various body tissues. Inadequate iron intake would cause the body to produce insufficient amount of red blood cells, leading to iron deficiency anaemia.

Health impact of iron deficiency anaemia

Picky eating and inappropriate methods to lose weight will cause inadequate iron intake. Due to periodical blood loss during menstruation, female teenagers will have a higher risk of developing iron deficiency than male. People with iron deficiency anaemia tend to be pale, tired and unable to concentrate on their study. Other symptoms include dizziness, poor appetite and weakened immune system.

Prevention

In order to prevent iron deficiency anaemia, it is essential to develop a healthy eating habit and eat according to the “Healthy Eating Food Pyramid”. One should also learn to choose iron-rich food. The recommended daily requirement of iron is as below:

Age Recommended daily requirements (mg)
Male Female
4-6 10 10
7-10 13 13
11-13 15 18
14-17 16 18
18-49 12 20

Iron-rich food

1.

Meat and seafood

  • Beef, pork, lamb, etc.
  • Oyster, shrimp, clam, etc.
2.

Egg, dried beans and its products

  • Egg
  • Soybeans, red kidney beans, soybean milk film, etc.
3.

Dried fruits

  • Raisins, dried apricots, etc.
4.

Nuts, seeds

  • Almonds, sesame, peanuts, cashew nuts, etc.
5.

Vegetables

  • Spinach, wood ear fungus, etc.
6.

Grains

  • Brown rice, oats, etc.
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with iron

Since vitamin C helps enhance the iron absorption of plant-source food, when you are having these iron-rich food, you should also eat some food rich in vitamin C, e.g. orange, mandarin orange, kiwi fruit, tomato, broccoli, etc.

Suggested Menu: Whole-wheat bread with peanut butter + fresh orange juice
  Mixed vegetables stew with fresh tofu skin + stir-fried broccoli

Iron content of food

Food Weight Iron (mg) Food Weight Iron (mg)
Beef (round) (cooked) 100 g 2.6 Adzuki beans (cooked) 1 cup
( 230 g )
4.6
Pork (loin) (cooked) 100 g 1.2 Almonds 1 oz.
( 28 g )
1.0
Lamb (leg) (cooked) 100 g 2.2 Cashew nuts 1 oz.
( 28 g )
1.7
Chicken (thigh) (cooked) 100 g 1.3 Sesame 1 Tbsp
( 9 g )
1.3
Tuna fish (canned in water) 100 g 1.5 Peanuts 1 oz.
( 28 g )
1.2
Clams (cooked) 100 g 27.9 Raisins 0.5 cup
( 72 g )
1.3
Oysters (cooked) 100 g 9.2 Apricots (dried) 0.5 cup
( 65 g )
1.7
Shrimps (cooked) 100 g 3.0 Date (dried) 100 g 2.3
Egg (boiled) 1 piece
( 50 g )
0.9 Spinach (cooked) 1 cup
( 180 g )
6.4
Soybeans (cooked) 1 cup
( 172 g )
8.8 Wood ear fungus (soaked in water) 100 g 5.5
Red kidney beans (cooked) 1 cup
( 171 g )
5.0 Brown rice 1 cup
( 195 g )
1.0
Chickpeas (cooked) 1 cup
(164 g )
4.7 Oat bran,
breakfast cereals
0.5 cup
( 40 g )
1.8
Soybean milk film (dried) 100 g 16.5 Oats (cooked) 1 cup
( 234 g )
2.1

1 cup is approx imately 240ml

  • Eating too much red meat (beef, pork and lamb, etc.) would increase the risk of colon cancer. It is recommended to eat less than 500g red meat (cooked) per week.
  • Eat less foods that would hinder iron absorption (e.g. tea, coffee, etc.). Avoid drinking them during the period from 2 hours before a meal to 2 hours after a meal.
  • Avoid taking iron supplement unless you are advised by the doctor. Excessive iron intake would affect the absorption of other minerals and over-accumulation of iron in your body would cause harmful effects.
Reference:
1) The Chinese Dietary Reference intakes (2013)
2) Centre for Food Safety Nutrient Information Inquiry System
3) Hong Kong Red Cross blood transfusion service

(Revised in May 2021)

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