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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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Found 146 results

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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Iron test - Lab Tests Online AU

To determine your blood iron level. Testing for blood iron levels is part of a series of tests to assess iron body stores and the impact of low iron on anaemia (low haemoglobin). The serum iron level varies markedly throughout the day and according to recent intake, it is not helpful and should not be used as a stand-alone test in the diagnosis of iron deficiency anaemia.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

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.

Read more on Reflux Infants Support Association website

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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Anaemia: my doctor says I need more iron Dietitians Association of Australia

Anaemia: my doctor says I need more iron When someone has anaemia, their body is not able to transportenough oxygen around in their blood

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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

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Anaemia - myDr.com.au

Read about the signs of anaemia, and its prevention and treatment.

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Reticulocyte count - Lab Tests Online AU

To help evaluate the bone marrow's ability to produce red blood cells (RBCs) and to help distinguish between anaemia related to blood loss or destruction and anaemia related to decreased RBC production; to help monitor bone marrow response and return of normal marrow function following chemotherapy treatment, bone marrow transplant, or post-treatment follow-up for iron deficiency anaemia

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Zinc protoporphyrin - Lab Tests Online AU

When you have been chronically exposed to lead, as part of a programme to monitor lead exposure, and/or when your doctor suspects lead poisoning; as part of a screening programme for iron deficiency in children and adolescents

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