|Farmscape for February 14, 2001 (Episode 618)
New nutritional guidelines developed by the National Academy of Sciences show meat, fish and poultry to be the best dietary sources of iron and zinc.
Last month the National Academy of Sciences, a panel of American and Canadian nutrition experts, released new dietary recommendations calling for increased intake of iron and zinc.
The panel found vegetarians need almost twice the iron intake of meat eaters and 50 per cent more zinc.
Canada Pork Manager Mary Ann Binnie says getting adequate iron intake is really a matter of eating according to Canadas food guide and consuming a variety of foods including two to three servings per day from the meat and alternatives food group.
Clip-Mary Ann Binnie-Canada Pork
Iron is vital for transporting oxygen in the blood stream and for preventing anemia.
A deficiency can have a negative effect on resistance to infection, attention span, memory, learning ability, productivity, physical performance and endurance.
This iron deficiency is most prevalent among women, especially pregnant women and it's an important concern.
The recommendations for these vulnerable groups have been increased because the absorption of iron from plant foods is relatively low compared to that from animal foods and, as such, comes the recommendations that vegetarians will need to consume twice as much iron to meet their daily requirements.
Now certainly some plant foods such as breads, cereals, legumes and certain vegetables contain iron but this iron is only absorbed in smaller amounts than the amount of iron that can be absorbed from pork or other meats and poultry.
Binnie says there's been a great deal of emphasis on increased fruit and vegetable consumption and rightfully so but it's import to not forget the nutritional role of meats, fish and poultry.
She says proper nutrition is always a matter of eating a balanced diet.
For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.