Red meat could help boost iron intake

Two-thirds of British women recognise red meat as a good source of iron, but a majority are unaware of iron deficiency risk, a survey has revealed.

Clinical research shows that more than 90% of women consume less than the recommended intake of iron. Among them, 25% suffer from dangerously low levels of iron, with symptoms such as tiredness, pale skin and, in severe cases, hair loss.

 The National Diet and Nutrition Survey conducted by YouGov for MeatMatters also found that up to 27% of teenage girls and and 13% of teenage boys have low iron stores, leading to shorter attention spans and hindered learning ability.

Doctor and health campaigner Dr Christian Jessen said: “Following a healthy, balanced diet that’s rich in iron, vitamins and other minerals is by far the best solution for your health in the long term. Red meat can play a valuable role in this, as it is a good source of iron and it’s encouraging to see that most women recognise this. We now want to raise awareness of the risks of not getting enough iron.

“The high rate of iron deficiency among women in a developed country like the UK is a real concern. Equally shocking is the low level of awareness of the risks. For women, the side-effects are subtle and can creep up on you – you can end up feeling tired, lethargic with no get-up-and-go. In severe cases, your hair can fall out and your nails will become dry and flaky.”

Nutritionist Amanda Ursell said: “Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, has a high nutrient density. It’s a major source of protein, B vitamins and minerals, such as iron and zinc. Not having enough iron from the foods you eat can leave you lacking in this vital nutrient, which means that it is more difficult for your body to get oxygen to the places it’s needed most. This can result in side-effects such as tiredness, pale skin and sometimes shortness of breath.”

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