Kiwis are struggling with energy levels – are you one of them?

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As World Iron Awareness Week (27 August – 2 September) kicks off, a recent survey suggests one in five of the 990 respondents suffer from low energy levels, an often-tell-tale sign of low iron levels – the world’s most prevalent nutrient deficiency.

Asked to rate their general energy levels – one in five stated they either ‘always’ or ‘often’ struggle to get through an average day.

The survey also delved down into the eating habits of participants, with over 50% of the low energy sufferers stating they eat red meat – which provides the most bioavailable source of iron – only twice or less a week. It therefore may come as no surprise that many Kiwis, including 1 in 14 New Zealand women (1), suffer from low iron levels.

Another alarming trend discovered from the survey was of those that stated they were suffering from low energy levels, over 85% were not consuming the five plus recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables per day.

When comparing eating habits to those who stated they had high energy levels, these people were more likely to be eating the recommended daily intake of at least five fruit and vegetables per day, as well as more likely to be eating red meat three to four times per week – which aligns with current nutrition recommendations.

Nikki Hart, a New Zealand Registered Nutritionist with 20 years’ experience, says it best: “Low iron has a direct impact on quality of life. Low energy and low concentration levels hinder the ability to carry out everyday tasks well, including childrens’ performance at school and adults in the workplace.”

“Against a backdrop of continuous conflicting nutritional information, this campaign addresses an issue that can be rectified, in part, by bringing eating habits back to basics: eat in moderation and enjoy a diet with a wide variety of whole foods – this is the best mantra not just for your iron levels, but all your dietary requirements.”

Of the 35% of respondents that had at some point been diagnosed by a health professional with low iron levels before, it was reassuring some acted by adjusting their diets including increasing red meat and leafy green vegetable intake, as well as a small proportion decreasing tea and coffee intake with meals – which contain known inhibitors of iron absorption. In some cases, a dietary supplement is required and this was the action of two thirds of the respondents who had been diagnosed.

For anyone concerned with their own or a family member’s iron levels, they are urged to see their GP, registered dietitian or registered nutritionist.  To find out more about iron deficiency or for tips on how to boost your iron levels visit ironweek.co.nz.

kit arkwright