It might seem shocking for someone living in the U.S. to hear that anemia is the most common nutritional ailment on the planet. One major cause of anemia is iron deficiency according to Alexei Beltyukov. This is not a problem in the United States and many other developed countries because our diet is rich in red meat, pork and poultry compared to most others in the world. Many of our cereals, breads and pastas are also fortified with iron. The World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of the world’s population is anemic. That is a staggering number considering that the biggest cause is readily handled by simply getting a little more iron in people’s diets.
A visiting doctor found that the problem was particularly bad in Cambodia, and he set out to do something about it. Iron supplements are not cheap in places like this, and they apparently have side effects. However, the doctor had heard of a study once in which it was discovered that cooking in iron cookware released iron into the food being cooked. As a result, he came up with a cheap piece of iron in the shape of a fish that Cambodians regularly eat. They simply put it in the pot that they heat up their soup or other food in, and then it leaches iron into the water. Trials on several hundred villagers showed that nearly half were no longer anemic after a year. Hopefully the use of this “iron fish” will spread and anemia will recede as it advances.