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Kai Connected To Atua Māori Good Source Of Iron For Women

Low iron levels are common in women, not only during pregnancy, but for all women who have demanding lifestyles. As a mum of four, Toi Tangata Kaiwhakahaere Rautaki Renei Ngawati understands the challenges of trying to meet the nutritional requirements of not only her children but herself as well.

“It is common for wahine to put their own needs last and feel that we are not able to achieve simple daily tasks. Low iron intake can be a big contributor to feeling tired and unmotivated,” says Ngawati.

“Feeding and caring for babies takes a lot of energy and getting iron into your body is really about getting the energy you need to function and feel well and happy.”

It is World Iron Awareness Week and Toi Tangata is encouraging awareness, education and action when it comes to the world’s most prevalent nutrient deficiency. Ensuring whānau are getting the right nutrients at the right times is both important and challenging and this is often guided by mum.

Toi Tangata CEO Megan Tunks says, “despite the serious consequences and high prevalence of iron deficiency, it is still an under recognised issue and we encourage whānau to become better informed and take a proactive approach when it comes to their health.”

“If we look at the genealogy or whakapapa of iron, we can trace it all the way back to Papatuanuku, our Earth Mother. Right from the beginning of creation through to today, iron continues to play a vital role in our existence and day to day ability to function optimally. It needs to be a priority. Māmā mā have the power to ensure they and their whanau are getting the iron they need.”

“There are lots of tips and tricks out there around how to get more iron rich kai into our diets, but we encourage eating kai connected to Atua, especially kai listed under Tāne and Tangaroa, but also Haumia and Rongo. It is equally important to eat a variety of kai, combining kai of the Atua, to increase the absorption and benefits of the iron in your kai.”

Examples of iron rich kai of the Atua include green lipped kūtai or tinned salmon under Tangaroa, lean beef steak or lamb leg steak under Tāne, watercress or pūha (boiled or fresh in a smoothie) under Haumia, and beans or chickpeas under Rongo. To aid iron absorption, include kai high in vitamin C to meals such as tomatoes, oranges, kiwifruit or capsicums.

Now in its seventh year, World Iron Awareness Week shares relevant information for whānau, particularly those with higher iron requirements such as pēpi and wāhine, and provides practical information on the importance of healthy iron levels for everyone. A particular focus is on ensuring mothers have good iron intake: Oranga wāhine, oranga whānau.

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