Iron deficiency has become one of most common mineral deficiencies worldwide. It’s really no surprise since so many of us are now eating a diet of highly processed convenience foods that lack the nutrients our bodies crave.
Iron is absolutely necessary for life.
Not only does your body require it to grow normally and stay healthy, it’s also an ingredient in hemoglobin a protein in your red blood cells. Your red blood cells transport oxygen throughout your body.
But when there’s not enough iron available, a condition called anemia, your red blood cells can become weak causing your metabolism to take a nosedive and you to start feeling weak and fuzzy headed.
Are YOU deficient in iron?
If you’re not sure if you’re running low on iron there are a few common symptoms that can help give you a clue.
Some of the most common symptoms of iron deficiency are…
While more pronounced symptoms of anemia include…
|cracks in the sides of the mouth|
|regular illness and infection,|
|restless leg syndrome|
Unsurprisingly, research suggests most cases of anemia are caused by iron deficiency. Anyone who doesn’t get enough iron can suffer iron deficiency but some people are at greater risk.
People who should keep a close eye on their iron levels include…
Expecting mothers need to raise their iron intake to be sure there’s enough of the critical mineral to go around for both mom and baby.
Iron deficient anemia during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight in newborns. In addition, women who exercise regularly may run low on riboflavin, or vitamin B2, a vitamin the body requires to fully utilize iron.
It’s important to guard against iron deficiency in kids. Iron is necessary for brain development in children. In fact, a lack of iron is linked to slow neurodevelopment.
In the US, donors are typically told to only give blood once every eight weeks. But even with two months between donations those frequent donators can suffer from low iron – especially if they aren’t eating an iron-rich diet. In fact, the National Institute of Health reports that 25-35% of frequent blood donors develop iron deficiency.
Many cancer patients, particularly those who suffer from cancer in the esophagus, stomach, small bowel, or colon may experience iron deficiency caused by blood loss. [The loss of other nutrients and the resulting nutrient deficiencies can speed iron loss and lead to complications.
How much iron do you need?
Typically adult men under 50 only need about 8 mg of iron per day. The U.S. National Institute for Health recommends 18 mgs per day for women under 50. After the age of 50, 8 mg per day is the recommended daily value for both men and women.
Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant may need more, so talk to your doctor about your own needs.
Keep in mind that as you get older, you don’t digest and absorb nutrients as well. If you begin to experience iron deficiency symptoms, you probably need to find a way to get more iron into your body.
Finding the right balance is critical. Just as iron deficiency can lead to issues with your health, consuming too much iron can actually become toxic.
When possible you should try to get your iron through the diet. There are actually two different types of dietary iron.
Heme is iron from animal sources that the human body can easily absorb.
Non-heme is a type of iron found in plants and some animal sources. The body doesn’t absorb non-heme iron as well but vitamin C is known to help improve absorption.
The best sources of non-heme iron come from beans, nuts, and vegetables.
16 iron-rich foods to fight anemia
Below are 16 iron-rich foods you can add to your diet to ensure you get enough iron.
|Food||Milligrams per Serving||Percent DV*|
|White beans, canned, 1 cup||8||44|
|Chocolate, dark, 45%–69% cacao solids, 3 ounces||7||39|
|Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces||5||28|
|Lentils, boiled and drained, ½ cup||3||17|
|Spinach, boiled and drained, ½ cup||3||17|
|Tofu, firm, ½ cup||3||17|
|Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup||2||11|
|Sardines, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, 3 ounces||2||11|
|Chickpeas, boiled and drained, ½ cup||2||11|
|Tomatoes, canned, stewed, ½ cup||2||11|
|Beef, braised bottom round, trimmed to 1/8″ fat, 3 ounces||2||11|
|Potato, baked, flesh and skin, 1 medium potato||2||11|
|Cashew nuts, oil roasted, 1 ounce (18 nuts)||2||11|
|Green peas, boiled, ½ cup||1||6|
|Chicken, roasted, meat and skin, 3 ounces||1||6|
|Rice, white, long grain, enriched, parboiled, drained, ½ cup||1||6|
The best way to get iron is through natural, organic foods like the iron rich foods listed above. These also tend to contain other vitamins and minerals that make iron digestion and absorption easier and more complete, along with providing additional health benefits.
Iron excess, or hemochromatosis is a rare condition, but it does happen. Some people do consume too much iron in their diet or supplement when they don’t need to, but there are some who possess a genetic trait that makes it possible to absorb too much iron.
Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.
A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!
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