Monday, February 4, 2013

Ironing out iron deficiency ... and more

Iron deficiency is a global problem, no doubt about it. The fall-out from gross iron deficiency (anaemia) and more subtle “insufficiencies” affects all strata of society, impacts economies and most significantly, crosses generations. Apart from the statistics revealing the extent of nutrient malnutrition (which includes iron deficiency and is estimated to affect at least one third of the world’s population) a recent report also refers to the influential Cochrane review. Recommending against ‘established knowledge’ which has led to routine supplementation with iron during pregnancy, Cochrane suggests supplementing with iron on 3 days per week might be sufficient. 

With due respects to Cochrane, I’d go a step further and suggest that establishing iron status prior to conception is the only safe way to go. Optimal serum ferritin levels in the preconception period will ensure iron status is maintained during pregnancy and will also ensure that those daily, inorganic iron supplements, so beloved of the medical profession do not interfere with all important zinc status. 

Which brings me to the fact that zinc insufficiency is also a global problem affecting billions. It also has massive and far-reaching consequences given that zinc is widely considered the most important trace element for the woman about to become pregnant, but is destroyed or depleted by everything from non-sustainable farming and refining of grains, to alcohol, stress and growth. There’s an easy way to check your zinc status and set it right - click here.

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