Anaemia is one of the most common conditions resulting from a poor diet. It is often caused by a lack of the mineral iron in the diet. Iron is needed to build strong blood. The most common signs of anaemia are tiredness, and difficulty in working and learning. A simple check for anaemia is to look at the colour of the palms, lips, tongue or the skin inside the eye socket. In healthy people these should be red. In people with anaemia they will be pale pink.
The need for iron increases during growth and pregnancy, so children and women are especially likely to have anaemia. Anaemia in pregnant women can lead to small or premature babies and sometimes the death of the mother. Staple foods contain little iron. Foods with a lot of iron include red meats, liver, kidneys, blood and other kinds of offal. Egg yolks, dark green leaves and pulses are also high in iron, but this iron is not easily used by the body. However, eating fruit rich in vitamin C such as oranges and papaya, at the same meal, will make it easier for the body to use the iron.
Sometimes foods such as wheat, bread or cereal are available with extra iron added.