Published By: Gurpreet Kaur

How to avoid iron deficiency? Recommendations by FSSAI

Anemia caused by iron deficiency is one of the most common problems today

Iron deficiency happens in human beings when their body does not get enough mineral iron. The condition leads to abnormally low levels of red blood cells. For the unversed, iron is needed to generate hemoglobin, a type of protein that red blood cells need to carry oxygen around the body. When the body doesn’t have enough hemoglobin, the tissues and muscles in the body don’t get enough oxygen in order to work efficiently. It leads to anemia and the iron-deficiency anemia is one of the most common conditions in the world.

Mostly, iron deficiency is caused by poor diet, inflammatory bowel disease, need of more iron-rich food in pregnancy and blood loss.

Signs of iron deficiency

Common symptoms of iron deficiency are tiredness, headache and dizziness, and shortness of breath. Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan had once said “Fight off the symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) by consuming fortified staples like rice, wheat flour & double fortified salt, rich in iron.” Other symptoms include Noticeable heartbeats, also known as heart palpitations, dry and damaged skin and hair, swollen and inflamed mouth and tongue, brittle or spoon-shaped fingernails and restless legs. Iron deficiency can also make one crave strange foods or non-food items, including clay, dirt, chalk or paper. All this is mostly caused due to less oxygen reaching to vitals organs of the body. While iron is needed for a healthy immune system, a lack of it can be harmful to one’s immunity as well.

Types of iron rich food

Most foods have two types of iron - heme and non-heme iron. While heme is commonly found in meat, fish, poultry and can be easily absorbed by the body, non-heme iron is found in fruits, vegetables and nuts. But in the second case, only 2-10% of the iron is taken in by the body.

How to avoid iron deficiency

Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) has given four guidelines in order to fight iron deficiency. They are:

Take up meals using iron-fortified staples

Don’t take consume tea and coffee without meals

Have plenty of iron-rich food and veggies

Consuming Vitamin-C rich food aids in better absorption of iron

Lastly, take an iron supplement as a last resort if you are unable to meet your requirements of iron through your food intake.