Independent report

SACN Iron and Health Report

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommendations on iron and health, and consumption of red and processed meat



The main recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) are:

While most people in the UK are iron replete, health professionals need to be alert to increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia in toddlers, girls and women of reproductive age (particularly those from low income groups) and some adults aged over 65 years. Those with symptoms suggesting iron deficiency anaemia should receive appropriate clinical assessment and advice, including dietary advice on how to increase their iron intakes and to consider use of iron supplements if required.

A healthy balanced diet, which includes a variety of foods containing iron, will help people achieve adequate iron status. Such an approach is more important than consuming iron-rich foods at the same time as foods/drinks that enhance iron absorption (e.g., fruit juice, meat) or not consuming iron rich foods with those that inhibit iron absorption (e.g., tea, coffee, milk).

Adults with relatively high intakes of red and processed meat (around 90 g/day or more) should consider reducing their intakes. A reduction to the UK population average for adult consumers (70 g/day cooked weight) would have little impact on the proportion of the adult population with low iron intakes.

Return to the SACN home page for more information on the Committee.