Reblogged: This Iron Fish Offers Relief From Anaemia
Date: February 18, 2014 Posted by: Dafydd Monks
Iron defficiency anaemia affects around 5% of the population of the United Kingdom, with more women than men affected. It manifests as a lack of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Its symptoms are tiredness, lethargy and lack of motivation,chronic fatigue and low immunit. It is very hard to test for given that the reference levels of iron in the body are broad ranges and may not be what a person actually needs. With 1 in 12  women deficient in Iron, you will almost certainly know someone who lacks enough iron (or the vitamin B12 and folates required to absorb it).
But spare a thought for people in Cambodia: 44% of people there are lacking in Iron, and as 70% of the population exists on less than £1 a day, they can neither afford foods which are rich in Iron, such as meat, or supplements. Enter Chris Charles, a University of Guelph PhD student who was travelling in Cambodia and who knew that iron is readily absorbed if it is added to food when cooked.
However, unsurprisingly, few Cambodians were keen to put some scrap iron in with the stew, so this information was useless. However, he conducted some research among the locals and discovered that the fish is a lucky symbol in Cambodia. So the idea of casting little ingots of iron into 'lucky fish' was born.
The villagers were told that the fish would bring them luck if placed in the cooking pot, and many were keen to try it. They then recomended it to friends because they thought it had brought them luck - when in reality, it had brought them health.
This reminds me of a story my grandparents told me some time ago. They said that before world war two, rates of anaemia were high, especially amongst young women. Aparently, many such young women joined military or quasi-military organisations such as the Women's Land Army, where the catering was from large cast iron pans and pots. By the end of the war, few still had anaemia. So is there a case for cooking in Iron Pots again? I don't know, but with concerns over a connection between Alzheimer's disease and aluminium, and aluminium leaching out of cooking vessels , it's worth considering!
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The article that inspired this blog post can be found at: