Iron helps make hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Anemia is the result of a decrease in red blood cells .
It can cause fatigue, pale skin, dizziness, and / or weakness, and can lead to other health problems, including heart failure, if left untreated. And anemia rates are increasing due to changes in the American diet .
It mainly affects women
For this study , the researchers used three large government databases to track trends in anemia rates; the amount of iron found in American food products; and deaths from iron deficiency anemia between 1999 and 2018 .
Prevalence of anemia among non-pregnant women (% of women ages 15-49) in the United States: It was 13.20 in 2016. Its highest value for the last 26 years was 13.20 in 2016 , while its lowest value was 7.50 in 2000 .
During the study period, deaths from iron deficiency anemia increased and more people required treatment for severe anemia. This risk was higher among women and African Americans .
During that time, iron intake fell 6.6% in men and 9.5% in women, as levels of the nutrient fell in more than 500 food products tested, including pork, turkey, fruits, vegetables, corn and beans.
This is most likely due to changes in agricultural practices. Previous studies have noted a push to increase crop yields per acre and irrigation runoff between those changes. Another big change? More people are eating chicken instead of red meat for health reasons , and red meat contains much more iron: