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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2006 Autumn;67(3):130-8.

The iron status of Canadian adolescents and adults: current knowledge and practical implications.

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Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.



Iron is an essential nutrient, playing a central role in oxygen transport and cellular energy metabolism. The importance of ensuring adequate bioavailable dietary iron stems from the severe consequences associated with iron deficiency (ID) and anemia, including reduced immune function and resistance to infection, developmental delays and irreversible cognitive deficits in young children, impaired physical work performance, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.


Poor dietary iron intake and ID exist in Canada, particularly in women of reproductive age. Data from the provincial nutrition surveys suggest that the prevalence of inadequate iron intakes (and low intakes of absorbable iron) among women under 50 years of age is over 10%, which may reflect poor iron status. Teenage girls are at risk for low iron stores because of the adolescent growth spurt and the onset of menstruation; those who are vegetarian are at even greater risk.


The Canadian diet has changed so that grain products are now the main source of dietary iron for all age groups. The public must be educated to ensure the consumption of adequate quantities of bioavailable iron and enhancing factors such as vitamin C. Industry, government, and health professionals must work together to promote healthy eating patterns and the selection of appropriate foods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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