27 Sep 2011

Iron deficiencies in NZ women doubles in decade

6:04 am on 27 September 2011

The number of New Zealand women who are deficient in iron has doubled in the past decade. One in 14 women over the age 15 have low iron levels.

The information comes from a Ministry of Health survey of 5000 women - the largest of its kind since 1997.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the results are a concern in a country which produces large amounts of iron-rich red meat.

Nutrition manager Fiona Carruthers says the price of red meat could be one reason for the results but she says people need to be smarter about how they use red meat in their diet.

Ms Carruthers says part of her organisation's role is to help people use meat more efficiently in terms of cost and quantities.

"It doesn't matter whether you're having a cheap slow-cook cut of meat compared to an isolate, they are both good sources of iron," she says.

A recent Colmar-Brunton poll showed chicken was the main ingredient in three of the top four dinner choices.

While it contains some iron, Ms Carruthers says eating red meat eating red meat as part of a balanced meal, three to four times per week, will help ensure iron requirements are met.

She says red meat, which is defined in the survey as beef, veal, lamb and mutton, is also high in protein, and contains zinc and B vitamins.