Iron brew

Lack of iron in the diet is a key health problem in the UK, according to independent dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton a member of the Meat Advisory Panel (MAP). “First of all it is vital to note that iron is essential for the formation of haemoglobin,” she says, “which is present in red blood cells and has the key role of transporting oxygen around the body. If iron intakes are chronically low, iron-deficiency anaemia can occur. The symptoms of this include breathlessness tiredness, muscle fatigue, headaches and insomnia. Government survey data indicate that some groups of the population have low dietary intakes of iron. These include women of reproductive age, especially pregnant women who have high iron requirements. Iron intakes also fail to meet recommended levels in groups of teenage girls, toddlers and older people.”

The most recent National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) mean intakes of iron were well below the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for girls aged 11 to 18 years (58% of the RNI), and for women aged 19 to 64 years (79% of the RNI).

Says Ruxton, “Worse still, a total of 44% of 11-18 year old women and 22% aged 19-64 years had inadequate iron intakes from food, thus risking deficiency. Red meats such as beef, lamb and pork are nutrient dense foods, meaning they provide a high level of beneficial nutrients in relation to their energy (calorie) content (IGD 2007). Thus, red meat can make a useful contribution to a healthy, balanced diet by boosting important nutrients, such as iron and vitamin D, which are often lacking in our diets.”

For more information about the role of red meat as well as a choice of recipes visit

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