Make sure you’re eating iron!

Iron is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in transporting oxygen around the body and in providing energy to muscles during physical activity. It also supports the immune system, growth, development, and the synthesis of hormones, so it’s important.

There are two types of dietary iron in food: heme iron and non-heme iron and the body absorbs them at different rates. Animal products, such as meat, poultry, and fish contain both heme and non-heme iron. Typically, heme iron accounts for less of a person’s daily intake than non-heme iron, but the body absorbs it more easily. However, foods from plant sources only provide non-heme iron, so while vegetarians and vegans need to take care to include plenty of iron-rich foods in their diet, they may be at higher risk of developing anemia than meat-eaters.

Foods that are rich in heme and non-heme iron include: liver, lean red meat, chicken, seafood, including oysters, lentils and beans, tofu, dried fruits, such as prunes, figs, and apricots, nuts, seeds, eggs, soya, molasses.

Dark-green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of iron, including: spinach, kale, seaweed, watercress, broccoli, asparagus, parsley.

Iron absorption: research has suggested the tannins in tea may reduce iron absorption in adults who already have low iron stores, with the effect greater with non-heme iron – so avoiding drinking tea with food or straight after a meal may help improve iron absorption.

To increase iron absorption, include foods that are high in vitamin C in the same meal as iron-rich foods. Eat a salad containing peppers and tomatoes with a steak or lentils.

Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia. Symptoms to watch out for can include: fatigue, dizziness, pale skin colour, hair loss, irritability, a feeling of weakness, pica (a craving to eat dirt, brick or sand), brittle or grooved nails. If you are experiencing any such symptoms’ it’s recommended to see a doctor.

NOTE: too much iron accumulating in the body is known as iron overload and can cause nausea and vomiting, upset stomach, abdominal pain, fainting and dizziness. Before using supplements always consult a doctor.

Just keep it real – a diet comprising iron-rich foods, such as lean meats, nuts, beans, lentils and dark leafy vegetables should do the trick.

Make eating real food Just Routine

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