In a study of the 1999-2000 NHANES data, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the prevalence of iron deficiency was twice as high among non-Hispanic, black women and Mexican-American women (19% to 22%) than among non-Hispanic white women (10%).1
The most recent statistics show that IDA is more common among female military recruits than male recruits, and the rates are highest among black, non-Hispanic female recruits, findings that are consistent with national studies.2
Total dietary iron intake in vegetarian diets may meet recommended levels; however, that iron is less available for absorption than in diets that include meat. Vegetarians who exclude all animal products from their diet may need almost twice as much dietary iron each day as nonvegetarians because of the lower intestinal absorption of non-heme iron in plant foods.1 Vegetarians should consider consuming non-heme iron sources together with a good source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, to improve the absorption of non-heme iron.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) define 3 groups of athletes who are at a higher risk for IDA. Females, distance runners, and vegetarian athletes may eat less iron or may lose iron more quickly than people who exercise less or often or less vigorously.3
1 Iron deficiency--United States, 1999-2000. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5140a1.htm. Updated October 11, 2002. Accessed April 3, 2013.
2 Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC). Iron deficiency anemia, active component, US Armed Forces, 2002-2011. MSMR. 2012;19(7):17-21.
3 Zhu A, Kaneshiro M, Kaunitz JD. Evaluation and treatment of iron deficiency anemia: a gastroenterological perspective. Dig Dis Sci. 2010;55(3):548-559.
4 Dietary supplement fact sheet: iron. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Web site. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/. Updated August 24, 2007. Accessed April 3, 2013.