Iron Deficiency Anemia.

Updated: May 22, 2020

Iron is an essential mineral required for growth and development, a growing brain and sharp mind. Its an essential part of many bodily functions such as energy production, synthesising genetic material and transporting oxygen around our body.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, although with a few simple strageties its the easisest to prevent and manage.


Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) is when your body has inadequate healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body and carry out the bodily functions mentioned above. Its most common cause is inadequate intake of iron rich foods, but can also be due to malabsorption resulting from gut issues, or increased nutritional needs of iron which is seen in pregnancy and the early years of life.

Who is at risk of iron deficiency?

Pregnant woman:

Inadequacies can lead to preterm babies, low neonate birth weight, infant or maternal mortality.


Espeically pre-term bubs, delayed introduction of solids, milk chuggers, and those born to mummas with limited intake or stores. Inadequacies can lead to growth and developmental delays, impaired immune system, learning and concentration difficulties, behaviour issues, fatigue,

Menstrating females:

Us ladies loose iron when we mentrate, its estimated 1 in 4 woman are iron deficient.

Vegans & Vegetarians:

Due to inadequate iron intake. Its common to become iron deficient ~6 months after transitioning to a plant based intake due iron stores in our body usually can only fuel us for 6 months if intake is limited.

Others at risk are the elderly, alcoholics, athletes, individuals carrying excessive weight, and those with malabsorption conditions (chrons, unmanaged coelia disease etc)

Pregnant mumma's, you're at high risk of iron deficiency anemia due to your iron requirements doubling!

Iron comes in three forms; - Lactoferrin (from breastmilk),

- Heme (animal flesh), and

- Non-heme sources (plant-based)

The best source of iron:

Heme iron from animal products and Lactoferrin from breastmilk because these sources are more bioavailable, meaning it's got a higher chance of being absorbed and utilised in our body compared to non-heme iron. Nonheme iron sources such as plants and grains have limited ability to sustain our iron stores due phytates and polyphenols found in plants which interfere iron and decrease the amount that is absorbed into the body.

Diagnosis: A blood test will confirm IDA if your serium ferritin indicates low iron stores. See your local GP for a blood test if you fall into an group at risk.

If Iron Deficiency is diagnosed, you are elidgable for dietetic support subsitised by medicare! That mean you may only pay $30 for 1-3 visits to a dietitian. Email me for more infomation.

Signs & Symptoms of Iron Deficiency:

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Muscle weakness

  • Decreased memory, learning and concentration

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feeiling lightheaded

  • Pain in the abdominal region and back

  • Food cravings

  • Thin and weak nails and hair

  • Cracks in the edge of your mouth

  • Palpitations and feeling uneasy

  • Dark urine

  • Restless leg syndrome

  • Faltering growth is seen in babies, toddlers and children with IDA.

Treatment & Prevention:

Treatment depends on dietary choices and circumstances. Intake of iron-rich foods is the first line of treatment but it can also be prevented and managed if you choose to avoid animal prroducts and red meat.

. An iron supplement may be reccomended if you cant meet iron reccomendations orally, especially during pregnancy when it can be challenging to meet your high demands with food alone, especially when you have regular meetings with morning sickness.

Dietetic fees for management of IDA:

Initial Consultation: $83.80 (only $30 with GP referral) Review Consultation: $53.80 ($0 with GP referral)

Need more infomation?

I am happy to help and answer any questions you have. Send an email to

Nikki Brown-Shepherd

Accredited Practising Dietitian

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