What is the purpose of dietary history in suspected iron deficiency anemia?

Updated: Sep 07, 2019
  • Author: James L Harper, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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A dietary history is important. Vegetarians are more likely to develop iron deficiency, unless their diet is supplemented with iron. National programs of dietary iron supplementation are initiated in many portions of the world where meat is sparse in the diet and iron deficiency anemia is prevalent. Unfortunately, affluent nations also supplement iron in foodstuffs and vitamins without recognizing the potential contribution of iron to free radical formation and the prevalence of genetic iron overloading disorders.

Elderly patients who are in poor economic circumstances and do not wish to seek aid may try to survive on a “tea and toast” diet. They may also be hesitant to share this dietary information. This group is far more likely to develop protein-calorie malnutrition before they develop iron deficiency anemia.

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