Friday, October 16, 2015


Last year I felt tired and lethargic and struggled to catch my breath when I climbed the stairs. I was amazed on giving my usual blood donation to discover that I was iron deficient, particularly as I eat red meat. A few months later, everything was back to normal thanks to more focus on my diet. But, it made me more aware about iron deficiency which remarkably affects one in ten women in the UK.

Everyone thinks of Popeye and spinach in relation to iron but red meat is, in fact, the best available dietary source. The haem iron in red meat is two to six times better absorbed than the non-haem iron found in pulses, green vegetables and fortified foods. Haem iron also boosts the absorption of non-haem iron making it a good idea to serve a large portion of broccoli with your steak!

Those at particular risk of low iron intakes and poor iron status are women, teenagers, athletes and people who avoid or eat very little red meat. A few dietary considerations can make all the difference such as eating red meat 4-5 times a week (up to 500g cooked weight per week), drinking a glass of orange juice with meat meals, serving green leafy vegetables with main meals, and eating fortified breakfast cereals.