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Vol. 51, No. 2, 2007
Issue release date: June 2007
Ann Nutr Metab 2007;51:172–181

Iron Intake in Relation to Diet and Iron Status of Young Adult Women

Pynaert I. · Delanghe J. · Temmerman M. · De Henauw S.
Departments of aPublic Health, bClinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, and cObstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, and dDepartment of Health Care, Division of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vesalius, Hogeschool Gent, Ghent, Belgium

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Aims: To determine the iron intake and food sources of iron in young adult women and to compare women with high versus low iron intake on diet and iron status. Methods: Iron intake and food sources were assessed by a 2-day estimated food record. Iron status was determined by a fasting venous blood sample. Differences in diet and iron status between women with high versus low iron intake were examined by comparing women of the fourth respectively first quartile of total iron intake (mg/day). Results: The median total, heme and non-heme iron intake was 10.6, 0.6 and 9.8 mg/day, respectively. The median iron intake was 93 and 131% of the estimated average requirement (EAR) of the UK (11.4 mg/day) and USA (8.1 mg/day), respectively. The most important iron intake contributors were cereals and cereal products (31%), meat and meat products (12%) and vegetables (10%). Women with a high iron intake showed a significantly higher energy-adjusted intake of alcoholic beverages and soups and a lower intake of non-alcoholic beverages than women with a low iron intake. Approximately 5% of the women had anemia, of which 3% had iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Almost 20% was iron-deficient non-anemic. In this regard, no significant differences were found between the iron intake quartiles. Conclusion: The median iron intake in this study population is considerably below the national recommended dietary allowance (20 mg/day). However, based on the approach of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, iron intake seems to pose no major health problem when using the EAR as a reference. The number of women with IDA was indeed not alarming (3%), although 20% was iron-deficient non-anemic. The question remains whether an increase in iron intake can improve iron status.

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