5 things to know about iron and iron deficiency

Iron is a mineral that is crucial to your good health. Read on to find out some facts about iron and iron deficiency.

1. Iron is essential for our body to function normally

Do you remember learning at school that your red blood cells carry the oxygen you breathe from your lungs to other parts of your body? Iron plays an essential role in that process. More specifically, it is an important part of haemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells that carries your oxygen. Iron is also an important part of myoglobin, which helps provide oxygen to your muscles.1

2. There are different levels of iron deficiency

Iron deficiency develops gradually and usually has few symptoms in the early stages. Fatigue and feeling tired are among the symptoms of iron deficiency.1

3. Iron deficiency is common

One out of five Australian women aged younger than 50 is iron deficient and iron deficiency is reported to be the most common form of nutritional deficiency in the world.1,2

4. Three general reasons for iron deficiency

Insufficient intake of iron:

  • Lack of iron in diet
  • Reduced iron absorption
  • Restricted diet (vegetarian, vegan, low meat diet)

Loss of iron at an increased rate:

  • Blood loss

Your body has higher iron needs than normal:

  • Pregnancy
  • Growth
  • Elite athlete

5. Too much iron can be harmful

There are significant benefits to treating iron deficiency. However, as with all medicines, there can be risks. Therapeutic iron supplements can have risks of iron overload when taken incorrectly or inappropriately.

So, it is important to take your therapeutic iron supplement in line with your doctor's directions and to only take iron supplements if you have been diagnosed with iron deficiency by a doctor.

6. Don’t decide on your own

Australian pharmacies stock dozens of over-the-counter products that contain iron. But not all of these contain the right amount of iron to be effective treatments for iron deficiency. In fact, some have warnings on the pack that state they should not be used to treat iron deficiency.3

If you think you may be iron deficient, it’s crucial to see your doctor for a blood test.1 Depending on your test results, your doctor may recommend a therapeutic oral iron supplement such as Ferro-grad C®.


  1. Gastroenterological Society of Australia. Clinical update – Iron deficiency; 2015.
  2. Ahmed F et al. Iron status among Australian adults: findings of a population based study in Queensland, Australia. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17(1):40-47.
  3. Pasricha SS et al. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anaemia: a clinical update. Med J Aust. 2010;193:525-532.

FGC-2021-0002 January 2021