One in 3 children and one in 4 adults suffer from iron deficiency

By Don Asoka Wijewardena  

Consultant Nutritionist Dr. Mrs. Renuka Jayatissa yesterday (29) said one in three children and one in four adult Lankans suffer from iron deficiency making it the most difficult micro-nutrient-related deficiency in the country.

 Prevention and treatment of iron deficiency could raise national productivity by 20 per cent, she said.

Children and adults iron deficiency anaemia had poor memory or poor cognitive skills resulting in poor performance in school, work and in recreational activities. Lower IQs had been linked to iron deficiency occurring during critical periods of growth, Dr. Jayatissa said at a media conference on Iron Deficiency held at the Health Education Bureau.

Nutrition Coordinator Ministry of Health Dr. Mrs. Shanthi Gunawardena said that iron was an essential mineral needed for healthy growth and development. Symptoms commonly associated with iron deficiency included chronic fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache and shortness of breath and loss of interest in work, recreation and relationship. As the body became deficient in iron and anaemia worsened, the symptoms also worsened. 

She said that prevention and treatment of iron deficiency anemia included the consumption of iron rich foods such as lean meat, fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables (such as gotukola, sarana, Murunga leaves, kathurumurunga and tampala) pulses and eggs. Sources of vitamin C such as fruits or vegetables could also help the body to absorb iron better. 

Health Ministry’s Additional Secretary Dr. Amal Harsha de Silva said iron deficiency was the most common nutritional deficiency and the leading cause of anaemia in Sri Lanka.

 He said that iron deficiency also caused both men and women to feel lethargic and weak and reduced their concentration, making it difficult for them to care and provide for their families and contribute to society.

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