Iron deficiency affects nearly two billion people. That’s one-third of the world’s population. Your body needs iron to function and is an essential nutrient that helps your vital organs get the oxygen they need.
Signs of iron deficiency include pale skin, general fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and difficulty concentrating.
A 300-year-old Chinese practice of cooking with cast iron has been revived by Dr. Gavin Armstrong, founder of Lucky Iron Fish. His simple solution? A US$25 spoon-sized iron fish that you place inside your cooking pot. It doesn’t sound very appetizing, but the iron released into food provides a significant portion of recommended daily intake. “Using a cast iron pan will do the job to a degree,” says Armstrong. “But many people have thrown them away as they’re too heavy and difficult to clean.” The arrival of Teflon-coated, aluminum pots and pans has also moved consumers towards convenience, without realizing the loss of iron from their old cooking utensils.
“In Cambodia, where we started our iron-deficiency work, people didn’t want to put an ugly piece of iron in their meal,” explains Armstrong. “It seemed as if they were cooking with rubbish. The symbol of a fish is considered lucky by Cambodians and that’s how our iron fish was born.”
Now in 66 countries, the brand is finding universal appeal, except in India, where they are experimenting with a leaf-shaped piece of iron because most people are vegetarian. “People are tired of taking artificial supplements,” says Armstrong. “Boiling the fish for 10 minutes will give you a safe daily intake.” Amazingly, families in Cambodia – where clinical trials have reduced anemia by 46% – are still using their fish more than five years later. Every fish sold sees another one being donated to a family in need.
To date, 100,000 families have benefited globally.