High prevalence of iron deficiency and anemia in female military recruits

Mil Med. 2006 Sep;171(9):866-9. doi: 10.7205/milmed.171.9.866.


Iron deficiency anemia has long been known to impair physical and mental performance. Iron deficiency itself, even without anemia, may also cause such an effect. Similar to female athletes, women in active military units may have increased risks for iron deficiency and its detrimental effects. Female recruits were screened for anemia and iron store status, and a questionnaire on lifestyle habits and menstruation was completed. Iron depletion (serum ferritin level of <20 microg/L) was found for 77% of study participants. Iron deficiency (ferritin level of <12 microg/L and transferrin saturation of <15%) was found for 15% of study participants. Anemia was found for 24% of subjects, and iron deficiency anemia was found for 10% of subjects. High prevalence of iron depletion, iron deficiency, anemia, and iron deficiency anemia was found among female recruits intended for active military duty. Therefore, a recommendation can be made to screen such female recruits for anemia and iron stores.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Ferritins / analysis
  • Ferritins / blood
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Life Style
  • Military Medicine*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Ferritins