Who needs Iron?

Women and Iron

Lack of iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, even in the Western world where most of our dietary problems stem from eating too much rather than too little. Women are particularly at risk.

This means many women could be feeling tired, lethargic and run down.

What are the main causes of low iron levels?

Not eating enough iron-rich foods, for example those on restrictive diets and vegetarians.

Increased demand for iron, for example during pregnancy, to replace blood loss (from menstruation), in times of growth, such as adolescence or strenuous physical activity.

How much iron do I need?

Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) of Iron per day:


Girls 9-13 years
Teenage women 14-18 years
Women 19-50 years
Pregnant Women
Breastfeeding women 19-50 years
Women 51 years +



An Iron-Rich Diet in Easy Steps

  • Eat foods high in haem iron (found in beef, lamb, seafood and poultry).
  • Eat foods high in non-haem iron (found in wholegrain breads, vegetables,  fruit, legumes, nuts, eggs and some breakfast cereals) and combine them with haem iron foods to help absorption.
  • Eat foods high in vitamin C at every meal as this helps increase non-haem absorption. For example, eat fruit with your breakfast cereal.

Absorption Example

For a woman to get half of her daily iron needs from beef, she needs to eat just 120g of lean beef steak. To get the same amount of iron from spinach, she needs to eat a massive 3kg!

Why else should I eat beef and lamb?

As well as tasting great and being versatile, lean beef and lamb are nutritionally dense foods, in other words - packed full of nutrients. They are excellent sources of the minerals, iron and zinc and good sources of the B vitamins, B12, B1, B2, B3 and B6 not to mention providing high quality protein, vitamin D, selenium and omega 3s.

The protein in lean beef and lamb may help to curb your appetite if you want to control your weight. This is because protein has a satiety effect (you feel full or satisfied for longer).

For delicious meals rich in iron, click here.

Freephone 0800 733 466 or click here to order your copy of the leaflet 'Thousands of New Zealanders Don't Get Enough Iron'.

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