Iron status of adults in the capital area of Finland

Marjaana Lahti-Koski, Liisa M Valsta, Georg Alfthan, Heli Tapanainen, Antti Aro
European Journal of Nutrition 2003, 42 (5): 287-92

BACKGROUND: Enrichment of wheat flour with iron, which commenced in Finland in the mid-1970s, ceased in 1994. No data on iron status among adults have been published since 1993.

AIM OF THE STUDY: To assess the iron status, adequacy of iron intake and dietary sources of iron in Finnish adults.

METHODS: A random sample of adults aged 25-64 years in the capital area of Finland was stratified for sex and 10-year age groups. Food consumption was measured with 24-h recall and a 38-item food frequency questionnaire. Iron status was evaluated by haemoglobin (Hb) concentration and other haematological variables from venous blood samples in both genders (n = 239 men and 190 women), and serum ferritin (SF) for women (n = 137).

RESULTS: The mean Hb concentration was 133+/-12 g/l and 137 +/- 10 g/l for women aged < 50 years and >/= 50 years, respectively, and 150 +/- 10 g/l for men. In younger women, the mean SF level was 32 +/- 30 micro g/l and 20% of women showed iron depletion (SF < 12 micro g/l),whereas in older women, the respective results were 62 +/- 59 micro g/l and 11 %. The prevalence of anaemia was 5.8 % for women (Hb < 120 g/l) and 1.3 % for men (Hb < 130 g/l). The respective mean intakes of iron were 10 mg/d and 13 mg/d. Cereals and meat were the major dietary sources of iron.

CONCLUSIONS: While iron status is fairly good among Finnish males, especially in younger women it is suboptimal,with iron intake failing to reach recommended levels. Food consumption was poorly associated with iron status.

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