‘Lucky Iron Fish’ May Help Billions With Anemia

‘Lucky Iron Fish’ May Help Billions With Anemia‘Lucky Iron Fish’ May Help Billions With Anemia

While on a trip to Cambodia several years ago, Dr. Christopher Charles, a Canadian science graduate, noticed that many of the children in the village he visited were weak and lacking the mental development of their first-world peers. The problem — one estimated to impact more than 3.5 billion people around the globe — was a lack of iron in their diets or what’s more commonly known as anemia.

While anemia can be easily cured with iron supplements, access to iron tablets is neither affordable nor widespread. Determined to help some other way, Charles set about devising an elegant solution: a lump of natural ferrous iron forged into the shape of a smiling fish, a symbol of good luck, reports BBC.

“Boil up water or soup with the iron fish for at least 10 minutes…you can then take it out,” Charles said. “Now add a little lemon juice, which is important for the absorption of the iron.”

Cooking with the ‘Lucky Iron Fish’ can provide up to 75% of an adult’s daily iron intake and nearly 100% for children. Unlike supplements, which can cause side effects, Charles’ invention releases a much smaller amount of iron with no negative impact.

“Such approaches are so much better than iron tablets, which are really horrible,” says Prof. Imelda Bates, head of the international public health department at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. “If it’s something that is culturally acceptable and not too costly, then any improvement to anemia levels would be of great benefit.”

In early trials in Cambodia, half of those who cooked with the ‘Lucky Iron Fish’ cured their anemia in 12 months. Since then, more than 46,000 men, women and children have all benefited from the product.

“Rural families recommended their friends and family to use the fish because they felt it was bringing them luck,” CEO Gavin Armstrong told FastCo.Create. “But in actuality it was bringing them health.”