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N Z Med J. 2001 Mar 23;114(1128):134-8.

Dietary iron intakes and biochemical iron status of 15-49 year old women in New Zealand: is there a cause for concern?

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  • 1Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin.



To assess dietary iron intakes and biochemical iron status of a nationally representative sample of nonpregnant 15-49 year old women (n=1,751) in New Zealand.


A cross-sectional national survey was conducted in 1996/97. Women were selected via a multistage stratified cluster sampling procedure with increased sampling of Maori and Pacific women. Dietary iron intakes were estimated using a 24-hour diet recall. Biochemical iron status was assessed on a non-fasting venipuncture blood sample (n=1,047) via haemoglobin, mean cell volume, erythrocyte zinc protoporphyrin, transferrin receptors and serum ferritin.


Average daily dietary iron intakes ranged from 9.6 mg/day among Pacific women to 10.5 mg/day among Maori women; 41% of 20-49 year olds and 45% of adolescents were at risk of low dietary iron intakes. The estimated percentage of 15-49 year old women with iron deficiency anaemia ranged from 1.4-5.5%, and for iron deficiency without anaemia from 0.7-12.6% depending on the age group and criteria used.


The overall estimated prevalence of suboptimal biochemical iron status among 15-49 year old women in New Zealand ranged from 7-13%, which compared favourably with premenopausal women living in other western countries. This situation is, however, a public health concern given the potential negative functional consequences associated with even mild iron deficiency.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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