How a Lucky Charm Is Solving One of the World’s Largest Health Problems

© Images Courtesy of Lucky Iron Fish

By Raye Mocioiu. 

Iron deficiency is the world’s largest nutritional challenge, with research from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggesting that across the globe, over two billion people are iron deficient, most commonly women, children, and teens. Canadian company Lucky Iron Fish is striving to change that with the help of a little good luck charm.

In 2008, University of Guelph PhD student Christopher Charles was researching anemia in Cambodia and found that nearly half of the women and children were afflicted by iron deficiency anemia. Their symptoms ranged from inconvenient to deadly, and Charles knew he needed to do something to help.

At the same time, Gavin Armstrong was working on his Masters degree at the University of Guelph, conducting PhD research on solutions to combat malnutrition. With a similar goal of finding creative solutions to tackle hidden hunger, Armstrong and Charles connected and developed the Lucky Iron Fish.

While there are many ways to increase one’s iron intake, such as iron-rich foods and supplements, Charles wanted to determine if placing a small piece of iron in a standard cooking pot would have similar iron-releasing results as a cast-iron pan.

They shaped iron blocks into the form of a fish—a sign of luck in Cambodian culture—and distributed them to local Cambodian women to use in cooking pots. The results were overwhelmingly positive!

Iron is a vital mineral that feeds your body and your brain. Without adequate iron, the body is starved for oxygen. Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are linked to poor maternal health, poor cognitive development, frequently falling sick, and much more.

The recipe is simple; boil up a pot of water or soup with the iron fish for at least 10 minutes, allowing time for the iron to infuse the water. Then, remove the fish and add a little lemon juice, which allows for the absorption of the iron.

When added to the slightly acidified boiling liquid, the Fish/Leaf will release microscopic iron particles off its surface and into the liquid!

“I am a firm believer that businesses have a responsibility to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges,” says Armstrong. “And one of the biggest challenges we face today is that of hidden hunger. Over one third of the world’s population goes to bed malnourished. Lucky Iron Fish was designed to serve as a simple solution to this complex problem. We are on a mission to make iron deficiency a thing of the past, one fish at a time.”

Easy Iron-Enriched Lemonade for Iron Deficiency

iron deficiency
© Courtesy of Lucky Iron Fish

Sweet, tart, and natural, this iron-enriched lemonade is easy to make and is sure to quench your thirst.


  • Lucky Iron Fish/Leaf
  • 6 cups of water
  • 6 lemons
  • 2 cups sugar


  1. Boil 4 cups of water. Once boiling, add 3-4 drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice and the Lucky Iron Fish/Leaf. Continue to boil for 10 minutes. Then remove the Fish/Leaf.
  2. In a separate saucepan, add 2 cups of sugar to 2 cups of water to make a simple syrup. Bring to a simmer and stir so that the sugar dissolves.
  3. Allow the iron-infused water and syrup to cool. In the meantime, juice all 6 lemons. You can save a few slices for garnish if you wish.
  4. In a large jug or bottle, combine the lemon juice, the syrup, and the iron-rich water.
  5. Serve over ice garnish with your favourite fruits. Cheers!



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