Women's Health

The 3 Pillars of Iron Deficiency

November 3, 2022

Did you know for every 1mL of blood we lose, we lose 1mg of iron along with it?

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No wonder so many women struggle with iron deficiency. Did you know for every 1mL of blood we lose, we lose 1mg of iron along with it? (1)

For those client’s coming to me with an iron deficiency, there are three pillars I look at to find solutions:


Women’s iron requirements (18mg p/day) are more than double men’s (8mg p/day) during our menstruating years, and pregnant women’s requirements are even greater (27mg p/day) (3). Based on this, the first thing I even look for client’s who may have an iron deficiency is if their dietary intake is meeting their requirements. This is a great blog post on iron intake and breaks down iron foods to ensure you’re meeting the recommended intake.


The absorption of iron can be disrupted by many things. Firstly in your diet, drinks such as coffee, tea and caffienated beverages can reduce the aboorption of iron, so it’s best these are kept seperate from mealtimes. This post more tips to ensure you’re eating iron-containing foods and optimising the absorption of iron when you’re eating it. ⁠

Other factors can affect how well your body aboosrbs iron like some conditions and medications. The acidity in your stomach is crucial for iron abosorption, so some medications like protein pump inhibitors that reduce this can increase the risk of iron deficency (2). Coeliac disease and the presence of H. pylori (a bacteria) are also conditions that can lead to iron deficiency (2). Your GP will likely test for these if you are chronically low in iron.


Heavy periods is one of the common reasons women are losing so much iron. A standard menstrual blood loss is less than or equal to 60mL per cycle (4), meaning you would lose 60mg of iron every month during your bleed. And that’s not even considering those with heavy periods!⁠ A heavy period is classified as greater than 80mL of blood loss (4). Donating blood is another reason why people may be losing too much iron. One blood donation can cost the donor about 250mg of iron! (2).

*An iron deficiency is only diagnosed through your GP with blood tests.
**Do not take iron supplements if you haven’t had a blood test to confirm an iron deficency.


(1) Nemeth, E., & Ganz, T. (2021). Hepcidin-Ferroportin Interaction Controls Systemic Iron Homeostasis. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(12), Article 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22126493

(2) Pasricha, S.-R., Tye-Din, J., Muckenthaler, M. U., & Swinkels, D. W. (2021). Iron deficiency. The Lancet, 397(10270), 233–248. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32594-0

(3) National Health and Medical Research Council. (2014, March 17). Iron [Nutrient Page]. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron

(4) Magnay, J. L., O’Brien, S., Gerlinger, C., & Seitz, C. (2018). A systematic review of methods to measure menstrual blood loss. BMC Women’s Health, 18(1), 142. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-018-0627-8

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