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Frequently Asked Questions
  • Why is iron so important?

    Iron is involved in a wide variety of metabolic processes, including oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and energy production.1 In the human body, it is needed for the proper functioning of many systems, including the heart, muscles and  red blood cells. It also plays a vital role in the immune system,2 the development of the brain 3,4 and cognitive function.5

  • What is iron deficiency?

    Iron deficiency is a health-related condition where there is not enough iron available to meet the body’s needs.6 It can occur with or without iron deficiency anaemia.6

  • What is the prevalence of iron deficiency?

    Iron deficiency is very common; present in one-third of people globally.7 Specifically, it is one of the few nutritional deficiencies still widespread in developed countries.7 It is most prevalent in premenopausal and pregnant women and children under the age of five.8 In Europe, for example, iron deficiency affects up to 33% of pre-menopausal women, up to 77% of pregnant women and up to 48% of children.8 Iron deficiency is also frequently associated with chronic inflammatory diseases.9

  • What are the effects of iron deficiency?

    The consequences of iron deficiency differ from person to person, but it can be linked to an overall decline in general  health and well-being, as well as an increase in fatigue.10 Even in the absence of anaemia, iron deficiency can be debilitating, and exacerbate any underlying chronic disease, leading to increased morbidity and mortality.6 In children, iron deficiency can significantly impair cognitive and motor development.11

  • Why is it important to celebrate Iron Deficiency Day?

    Despite the serious consequences and high prevalence of iron deficiency,12 it is still an under-recognised condition. As a result, many people are unaware that their health and well-being are being compromised.13,14 Even among those people who are aware of iron deficiency, some cannot recognise its symptoms.15 It is because of this lack of awareness that we are focused on education around the symptoms and impact of iron deficiency and recommending that people speak to a healthcare professional if they recognise any of the symptoms.

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6 Cappellini MD et al. Iron deficiency across chronic inflammatory conditions: International expert opinion on definition, diagnosis, and management. Am J Hematol. 2017 Oct;92(10):1068-1078.

Auerbach M, Adamson JW. How we diagnose and treat iron deficiency anemia. Am J Hematol. 2016;91(1):31-38.

8 World Health Organisation. Iron deficiency anaemia. Assessment, prevention and control: A guide for programme managers. 2001. Available at URL: Last accessed: June 2018.

World Health Organisation. Nutritional anaemias: tools for effective prevention and control. 2017. Available at URL: Last accessed: June 2018.

10 Fernando B, et al. A guide to diagnosis of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in digestive diseases. World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Oct 7; 15(37): 4638-4643.

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12 World Health Organization. Haemoglobin concentrations for the diagnosis of anaemia and assessment of severity. Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System. Available at URL: Last accessed: June 2018.

13 National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. How is Iron Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed. Available at URL: Last accessed: June 2018.

14 Elsayed M, et al. Transferrin Saturation: A Body Iron Biomarker. Adv Clin Chem. 2016;75:71-97.

15 Hercberg S, et al. Iron deficiency in Europe. Public Health Nutr. 2007;4(2b).

16 World Health Organisation. Worldwide prevalence of anaemia 1993-2005. 2008. Available at URL:;jsessionid=9C613E2F4D481EDEB9DE07986AFCE0C7?sequence=1. Last accessed: June 2018.

17 Thachil J. Iron deficiency: still under-diagnosed? Br J Hosp Med. 2015;76(9):528-532.

18 Miller JL. Anemia: a common and curable disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2013 Jul; 3(7).

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20 Patterson A, et al. Iron deficiency, general health and fatigue: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Qual Life Res.2000;9:491-497.

21 World Health Organisation. Nutritional anaemias: tools for effective prevention and control. 2017. Available at URL: Last accessed: June 2018.

22 Zimmermann M, Hurrell R. Nutritional iron deficiency. Lancet. 2007;370:511-520.

23 Abbaspour N, et al. Review on iron and its importance for human health. J Res Med Sci. 2014;19(2):164-174.

24 Hurrell R, Egli I. Iron bioavailability and dietary reference values. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91:1461-1467.

25 Hunt JR. Bioavailability of iron, zinc, and other trace minerals from vegetarian diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(3).

26 Waldmann A, et al. Dietary iron intake and iron status of German female vegans: results of the German vegan study. Ann Nutr Metab. 2004;48(2):103-8.

27 McDonagh T, Macdougall IC. Iron therapy for the treatment of iron deficiency in chronic heart failure: intravenous or oral? Eur J Heart Fail. 2015;17(3):248-62.

28 Favrat, B, et al. (2014). Evaluation of a single dose of ferric carboxymaltose in fatigued, iron-deficient women--PREFER a randomized, placebo-controlled study. PLoS One 9(4): e94217. eCollection 2014.

29 Nijrolder I, et al. Diagnoses during follow-up of patients presenting with fatigue in primary care. CMAJ. 2009;181(10):683-7.

30 Schieffer KM, et al. Association of Iron Deficiency Anemia With Hearing Loss in US Adults. JAMA Otolaryngol Neck Surg. 2017;(800).

31 Trost LB, et al. The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(5):824-44.

32 Cashman MW, Sloan SB. Nutrition and nail disease. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28(4):420-5.

33 Whitfield A, et al. Iron Deficiency Anemia Diagnosed in Female Teenagers. J Family Med Community Health. 2015. 2(7): 1058.

34 Scully C. ABC of oral health: Mouth ulcers and other causes of orofacial soreness and pain. Bmj. 2000;321(7254):162-165

35 Barton JC, et al. Pica associated with iron deficiency or depletion: clinical and laboratory correlates in 262 non-pregnant adult outpatients. BMC Blood Disord. 2010;10:9. doi:10.1186/1471-2326-10-9.

36 Silber MH, et al. Willis-Ekbom Disease Foundation Revised Consensus Statement on the Management of Restless Legs Syndrome. Mayo Clin Proc.2013;88(9):977-986.

37 Brigham D, Beard J. Iron and thermoregulation: a review. Crit RevFood Sci Nutr. 1996;36(1040-8398):747-763.

38 Jankowska E, et al. Iron deficiency: an ominous sign in patients with systolic chronic heart failure. Eur Heart J. 2010;31(15):1872-80.

39 Fallah R, et al. Evaluation Efficacy of Ferrous Sulfate Therapy on Headaches of 5-15 Years Old Iron Deficient Children with Migraine. Iran J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2016;6(1):32-7.