European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
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July 1999, Volume 53, Number 7, Pages 552-559
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Original communication
Iron deficiency in older people: Interactions between food and nutrient intakes with biochemical measures of iron; further analysis of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of people aged 65 years and over
W Doyle1, H Crawley1, H Robert2 and C J Bates3

1Institute of Brain Chemistry & Human Nutrition, University of North London, London N7 6DB

2School of Mathematical Sciences, University of North London, London N7 6DB

3MRC Human Nutrition Research (formerly MRC Dunn Nutrition Laboratory), Cambridge CB4 1X

Correspondence to: Wendy Doyle, Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, 189 Well Street, London E9 6QU

Contributors: Wendy Doyle undertook the data analysis and wrote an initial draft of the manuscript; Helen Crawley and Helen Roberts provided statistical advice and comment on the manuscript; Christopher Bates was responsible for biochemical analysis.


Objective: To quantitatively investigate relationships between food consumption, nutrient intake and biochemical markers of iron status in a population of older people.

Design: National Diet and Nutrition Survey: cross-sectional survey of a nationally representative population of men and women aged 65 y and over.

Setting: Mainland Great Britain

Subjects: 1268 participants (651 men and 617 women) who provided both dietary intake and blood biochemistry. 986 were living in private households and 282 were living in residential or nursing homes.

Results: Intakes of alcohol, vitamin C, protein, haem and non-haem iron and fibre were positively associated with iron status. Consumption of meat, poultry and fish were positively associated with six measures of iron status, and vegetables and potatoes with four measures. Calcium, dairy foods and tea generally had a negative association with most measures of iron status.

Conclusions: A varied diet containing meat, poultry and fish, vegetables and fruit, with a moderate intake of alcohol will make a positive contribution to the iron status of elderly people.

Sponsorship: Wendy Doyle was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods.


elderly; iron status; nutrient intake; food consumption

Received 28 July 1998; revised 5 February 1999; accepted 13 February 1999
July 1999, Volume 53, Number 7, Pages 552-559
Table of contents    Previous  Abstract  Next   Article  PDF