Purpose of review: Both dietary and nondietary factors contribute to iron deficiency, the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide. Identifying dietary factors associated with iron deficiency is challenging due to the number of components in food affecting iron absorption. This review describes recent advances in dietary approaches to assessing iron-related nutrition.
Recent findings: Most research investigating the relationship between dietary intake and iron deficiency has focussed on individual foods and nutrients, despite several components in foods influencing iron absorption. More recently, studies have considered the overall diet and combinations of foods eaten, through the analysis of dietary patterns and practices. This includes the development and validation of dietary assessment tools to assess iron-related dietary patterns.
Summary: Dietary pattern analysis which considers the whole diet and combinations of foods eaten may enhance our understanding of how diet impacts on iron deficiency. The analysis of dietary patterns offers an alternative and complementary approach to the traditional focus on individual foods and nutrients when investigating dietary factors associated with iron deficiency.