Iron nutrition in the UK: getting the balance right

Proc Nutr Soc. 2004 Nov;63(4):519-28. doi: 10.1079/pns2004394.


Fe homeostasis is considered in the context of the UK diet, using information on Fe intake and status from the National Diet and Nutrition Surveys. The importance of assessing Fe availability rather than total Fe intake is discussed. Dietary and host-related factors that determine Fe bioavailability (Fe utilised for Hb production) are reviewed using information from single-meal studies. When adaptive responses are taken into consideration, foods associated with higher Fe status include meat (haem-Fe and the 'meat factor') and fruits and fruit juice (vitamin C). Foods that may have a negative impact include dairy products (Ca), high-fibre foods (phytate) and tea and coffee (polyphenols), but the effects are more apparent in groups with marginal Fe deficiency, such as women of childbearing age. Analysis of dietary intake data on a meal-by-meal basis is needed to predict the influence of changing dietary patterns on Fe nutrition in the UK. Current information suggests that in the UK Fe deficiency is a greater problem than Fe overload.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Diet*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Iron / blood*
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Iron, Dietary / pharmacokinetics*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status
  • United Kingdom


  • Hemoglobins
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Iron