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Dietary approaches to assessing iron-related nutrition

Beck, Kathryn L.a; Heath, Anne-Louise M.b

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: November 2013 - Volume 16 - Issue 6 - p 712–718
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328364f382
MICRONUTRIENTS: Edited by Gil Hardy and Henry C. Lukaski

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.

aInstitute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, North Shore City

bDepartment of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Correspondence to Kathryn Beck, Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University Albany, Private Bag 102 904, North Shore City 0745, New Zealand. Tel: +649 443 9649; e-mail:

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins