Which adults are at increased risk of iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency affects one in five Australian women aged under 50, but certain groups of men may also be at risk, such as elite athletes and those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.1,2
Iron deficiency should always be medically diagnosed and treated by a doctor. If your doctor diagnoses iron deficiency, they will conduct further investigations to determine the underlying cause. Read on to find out which adults need to be aware about their risk of iron deficiency.
Adolescent girls and women of child-bearing age
Iron requirements escalate rapidly during adolescence as growth leads to an increased amount of blood in the body and increased body mass. This is compounded when girls start their periods.3
In addition, women of childbearing age, particularly those with heavy periods, are regarded as a risk group for iron deficiency.2
Pregnant women require additional iron to supply the growing foetus and placenta and to help increase the volume of blood in their body. If you are pregnant, you can expect your doctor to send you for blood tests to check your iron at your first antenatal visit and again at about 28 weeks. Pregnant women need about a third more iron a day than non-pregnant women of the same age.3
Elite athletes and those who participate in endurance sports may be at risk of iron deficiency. Causes can include impaired iron absorption due to a restricted diet and loss of iron through sweat.2,3
People on a restricted diet
People on a restricted diet, such as vegans and vegetarians, may not consume enough iron through the food they eat. One reason is that the non-haem iron in plant foods is more difficult to absorb than the iron found in meat. For this reason, people whose diet excludes meat need to take care to ensure they get enough iron.2
Check out How vegetarians and vegans can meet their iron needs
What to do if you are concerned
The first thing to do if you are concerned about iron deficiency is see your GP. They will be able to give you a diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment if your iron levels are too low. Remember to choose Ferro-grad C® if your doctor recommends a therapeutic oral iron supplement.
- 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.
- Gastroenterological Society of Australia. Clinical update – Iron deficiency; 2015.
- Pasricha SS et al. Diagnosis and management of iron deficiency anaemia: a clinical update. Med J Aust. 2010;193:525-532.
FGC-2021-0105. September 2021