Objective: Assessment of dietary iron intake in women of reproductive age in Europe.
Setting: Literature search of dietary surveys reporting intake of iron using PubMed, Internet browsers, and national nutrient databases in the period 1993-2015.
Subjects: Women of reproductive age.
Results: 49 dietary surveys/studies in 29 European countries were included. Belgium, Bosnia, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom/England, and Wales reported a median/mean iron intake of 7.6-9.9?mg/day. Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Spain reported an intake of 10.0-10.7?mg/day. Austria, Estonia, France, and Russia reported an intake of 11.0-11.9?mg/day. Latvia and Germany reported an intake of 12.0-12.2?mg/day. Croatia, Lithuania, Portugal, and Slovakia reported an intake of 15.9-19.0?mg/day. The percentage of dietary iron consisting of heme iron, reported in 7 studies, varied from 4.3% in United Kingdom to 25% in Spain. Nutrient density for iron (mg iron/10?MJ, median/mean) varied from 11.8 in Sweden to 23.0 in Lithuania. The correlation between nutrient density and dietary iron was significant (p=0.0006). In most countries, the majority of women had a dietary iron intake below 15?mg/day. In Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, and Sweden, 91-95% of women had an intake below 15?mg/day. In Ireland and Germany, 61-78% had an intake below 15?mg/day.
Conclusions: In Europe, 61-97% of women have a dietary iron intake below 15?mg/day. This contributes to a low iron status in many women. We need common European standardized dietary methods, uniform dietary reference values, and uniform statistical methods to perform intercountry comparisons.