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Iron deficiency (ID) can result from insufficient iron intake, inadequate iron mobilization or absorption, or a combination of these.

The hepatic iron regulatory hormone hepcidin governs the amount and distribution of body iron by controlling the entry of iron into the circulation for delivery for red blood cell production and tissue use. When hepcidin is low, stored iron is released into the bloodstream. Hepcidin is suppressed when there is an increased need for iron from body stores to form new red blood cells or when the levels of iron or oxygen circulating in the blood are low. In contrast, hepcidin is increased and prevents stored iron from being released when infection or inflammation are present or when the levels of iron circulating in the blood are high.

Absolute iron deficiency develops when absent or reduced iron stores cannot meet iron needs for red blood cell production and tissue use. Absolute ID can result from insufficient iron intake, inadequate iron mobilization or absorption, blood loss, or from a combination of these. Functional iron deficiency develops when increased hepcidin levels prevent the release of iron from body stores and reduce iron absorption. Absolute and functional iron deficiency may coexist. Consequently, inadequate iron absorption can result from infection and inflammation, from gastrointestinal diseases, and from nutritional causes such as the composition of the diet. Diets with poor iron absorption include those that contain large amounts of food components that inhibit iron uptake (e.g., coffee and tea, and phytates from whole grains), low amounts of food components that enhance iron absorption (e.g., vitamin C, and meat), or both.

Understanding the causes of iron deficiency and anemia, including poor nutrition, chronic infections, and inflammation, and blood loss, will help diagnose, treat, and manage these conditions. As a leading cause of anemia and years lived with disability in low- and middle-income countries, addressing iron deficiency, both absolute and functional, is a public health priority.

We found 13 resource(s)

Accelerating Action to Reduce Anemia: Review of Causes and Risk Factors and Related Data Needs
Literature Review published by Ann N Y Acad Sci in
This narrative review describes the causes and risk factors, and related data needs for reducing anemia for different population subgroups within a country and presents principles for the design and implementation of effective strategies to prevent and treat anemia.
Hypoxia‐Inducible Factor Stabilisers for the Anaemia of Chronic Kidney Disease
Systematic Review published by Cochrane Library in
We aimed to assess the benefits and potential harms of hypoxia‐inducible factor stabilizers for the management of anemia in people with chronic kidney disease.
Iron Deficiency
Journal Article published by The Lancet in
This review describes the causes and biological mechanisms that lead to iron deficiency, methods to assess the burden of disease, and the various available treatment options.
Hepcidin-Ferroportin Interaction Controls Systemic Iron Homeostasis
Journal Article published by International Journal of Molecular Sciences in
This review describes the role of the iron-regulatory peptide hormone hepcidin and cellular iron exporter ferroportin in the evolution of iron deficiency.
Maternal Anemia during Pregnancy and Small for Gestational Age: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Systematic Review published by The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine in
This systematic review aims to determine the relationship between maternal anemia during pregnancy and newborns small for gestational age. The review considers 10 studies including more than 600,000 pregnant women and identifies a nonsignificant relationship between maternal anemia during pregnancy and small-for-gestational-age births. Maternal…
Anemia Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Etiology in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Journal Article published by Ann N Y Acad Sci in
This review outline definitions and classifications of anemia, describe the biological mechanisms through which anemia develops, and reviews the variety of conditions that contribute to anemia development.
Six Key Actions to Reduce Anemia
Toolkit published by SPRING in
This brief describes country-led efforts to coordinate and implement anemia prevention and control, offering lessons learned to help other countries design the best possible solutions.
Changing the Way We Think About Micronutrient Assessment and Anemia Programming
Brief published by SPRING in
The Biomarkers Reflecting Inflammation and Nutritional Determinants of Anemia (BRINDA) project set out to improve the interpretation of iron and vitamin A biomarker results and our understanding of the main risk factors for anemia. The BRINDA findings indicate the importance of applying adjustments for inflammation to iron and vitamin A biomarkers…