The new Australian Food and Nutrition Report says the country’s dietary intake of iron should be around 50mg a day for men and around 35mg a week for women.
But some experts say the recommendations could be skewed by the fact that women have less access to good quality iron-rich fruits, vegetables and dairy products than men.
“I think a lot of the recommendations are pretty misguided,” Professor Michael Beasley, from the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health, said.
“They’re not based on any kind of evidence or solid evidence.”
Professor Beasley said the report’s recommendations would be good if they were followed.
“But in Australia, women are more likely to get it from food, so you’re not going to get a whole lot of good iron from food.”
Professor Richard Lefferts from the Australian Centre for Population Health and Public Health Research said the recommendations would do more harm than good.
“If you want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, then you need to eat a lot more iron-fortified foods,” he said.
He said the problem was the recommendations were not based upon evidence.
“The evidence is that if you want a healthy diet, then eat lots of good quality foods, and make sure you eat lots and lots of vegetables and fruit,” he added.
“There’s lots of evidence that people who are overweight or obese are more at risk of heart disease and stroke, and if they’re consuming lots of red meat and white meat, it’s also associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and other types of cancers.”
Dr Lefferets also questioned whether the report was taking into account the fact women were consuming more iron in general.
“Women are consuming more than twice as much iron as men,” he told AM.
“So we really need to look at all the other factors that women are taking into consideration.”
It’s a very important question because there’s a huge gap between what the World Health Organization [WHO] says and what we’re eating.
“He said while the report did recommend that women should have as much as 30 per cent of their diet made up of iron, the evidence on that was not yet conclusive.”
We have this recommendation that women need a bit more iron, and it’s only got a really small amount of evidence to back it up,” he explained.”
Even if it did prove to be true that women needed more iron than men, the advice that’s been given to women about iron is really wrong.
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