How does the pathogenesis of iron deficiency anemia differ between men and women?

Updated: Aug 04, 2019
  • Author: James L Harper, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Answer

An adult male absorbs and loses about 1 mg of iron from a diet containing 10-20 mg daily. During childbearing years, an adult female loses an average of 2 mg of iron daily and must absorb a similar quantity of iron in order to maintain equilibrium. Because the average woman eats less than the average man does, she must be more than twice as efficient in absorbing dietary iron in order to maintain equilibrium and avoid developing iron deficiency anemia.

Healthy males lose body iron in sloughed epithelium, in secretions from the skin and gut lining, and from small daily losses of blood from the GI tract (0.7 mL daily). Cumulatively, this amounts to 1 mg of iron. Males with severe siderosis from blood transfusions can lose a maximum of 4 mg daily via these routes without additional blood loss.


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