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What causes iron deficiency?

There are three main causes of iron deficiency.

If you have iron deficiency, it’s important to know the cause so you can get the right treatment. Also investigating why you may have iron deficiency means a serious disease won’t be overlooked, plus it will help prevent the deficiency coming back.

Not eating enough iron-rich foods

While your body can store iron, it can’t make it. You need to get iron from food. Red meat is the best source of iron, although you can also get some iron from other meats. Some plant foods also contain iron; some vegetables and pulses have more iron than others.

Some people need more iron than others. The people who need most iron are children, teenagers (especially girls), females of menstruating age, pregnant women and breastfeeding women.

Trouble absorbing iron

Iron in food is absorbed through your stomach and bowel. Some health conditions affect how much iron you absorb, such as coeliac disease. If you’ve had stomach surgery, that can also affect how much iron you can absorb.

The iron in plant-based foods is much harder to absorb than the iron in animal foods. So if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to understand how to prepare iron-rich foods to make sure you absorb as much iron as possible.

Blood loss

If you lose blood through any sort of bleeding, this means you lose iron too.

The main causes of excess blood loss are

Other causes can include giving blood too regularly, losing blood due to surgery, some gut conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, and infection with parasites such as hookworms.

Last reviewed: March 2017

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Iron Deficiency Anaemia | myVMC

Iron deficiency anaemia is a disorder of the blood, where the iron level in the blood is low

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Iron deficiency anaemia - myDr.com.au

Iron deficiency anaemia is when lack of iron means that the blood does not produce enough haemoglobin. The iron deficiency needs to be prolonged to produce anaemia.

Read more on myDr website

Iron deficiency anaemia in children - myDr.com.au

Iron deficiency anaemia is often due to insufficient iron in the diet. Find out about prevention and treatment.

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Fefol | myVMC

Fefol tablets are supplements that contain folic acid to prevent and treat iron deficiency anaemia and folate deficiency in pregnancy.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Ferrum H | myVMC

Ferrum H is an injection used in iron deficiency anaemia, for people who cannot take iron tablets. It contains iron polymaltose complex.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Fergon | myVMC

Fergon is an iron supplement used to treat iron deficiency anaemia in babies, adults and children.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Ferro-Gradumet | myVMC

Ferro-gradumet is an iron supplement to prevent iron deficiency and anaemia in people who can't tolerate normal iron supplements.

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Childhood reflux, low iron and anaemia - Reflux Infants Support Association Inc

Long term PPI use can cause iron absorption issues. Added to refluxing picky eaters, there's a likelihood that reflux children can suffer iron deficiency.

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Iron intake for vegetarians - myDr.com.au

Iron deficiency can be a nutritional problem for vegetarians, especially women. Find out about iron in food and how to enhance your iron absorption.

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Vegan diets: everything you need to know Dietitians Association of Australia

Vegan diets: everything you need to know Vegan diets are a type ofvegetarian diet, where only plant-based foods are eaten

Read more on Dietitians Association of Australia website

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