The Lucky Iron fish was developed to solve one of the world’s most common nutrient deficiencies and to reverse anemia. But is it tackling the problem for real?
The Lucky Iron Fish is an invention of Christopher Charles, who got shocked when he figured that anemia and iron deficiency was a massive problem in Cambodia.
The Lucky Iron Fish is an n iron ingot made from food-grade electrolytic iron. This type of iron is commonly used in food as an iron fortifier allegedly highly absorbed by the body.
To use it, it just has to be added to any boiling liquid for 10 minutes with a few drops of acid or citric to release the right amount of iron.
Iron deficiency and anemia are common worldwide issues. More than 50% of children and 45% among women 15–49 years old in Cambodia alone.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, anemia and iron deficiency also impact Western countries, like the US and Canada.
The problem was that the Lucky Iron Fish might not be tackling the anemia problem in Cambodia. Iron deficiency isn’t the primary cause of anemia there.
In 2014, Dr. Frank Wieringa, from France’s Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD), conducted a study in which they took blood samples from more than 2,000 women aged 15–39 across the country, and the results were shocking.
“We found almost no iron deficiency in Cambodia […]even if the iron deficiency was high in Cambodia, it wouldn’t have a big impact because the absorption from this type of iron is so low; it’s nothing.Dr. Frank Wieringa tells News Deeply.
Anemia, as Wiering said, is mainly caused by genetic defects, such as Haemoglobinpathy E. Concluding that using the fish-shaped iron ingot isn’t recommended.
According to Dr. Wiering interventions like Lucky Iron Fish can create more complications than solving any of them:
“If 50 percent of anemia is caused by iron deficiency, then if we get rid of iron deficiency, we get rid of 50 percent of anemia, so we should see an impact on anemia prevalence.”Dr. Frank Wieringa tells News Deeply.
Studies with more conclusive results should be conducted until we can give up on the idea of using an iron ingot as a way to enhance iron levels.