The Importance of Iron
Iron is a crucial mineral needed to produce hemoglobin in our blood, which carries the oxygen around our body and nourishes our organs so they’ll continue to function optimally. This mineral also helps to keep our immune system strong throughout cold and flu season, and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. When our body is low in iron, we make fewer healthy red blood cells which can start to cause problems in our body. Some signs of an iron deficiency include feeling tired and lethargic, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, lowered immunity, difficulty breathing and feeling cold. If you have ever been iron deficient or anemic, you will know how exhausting it is. Some reasons why you might be lacking in this mineral is that your body’s demand for iron may have increased. Young children that are going through a growth spurt, pregnant or breast feeding women, menstruation, intense endurance exercise, intestinal conditions or poor absorption are some common factors.
Dietary iron comes in two forms, heme and non heme. Heme comes from meat, fish and poultry, the highest amounts in lamb, oysters, mussels, clams, venison, and beef. Non heme comes from dark leafy green vegetables, molasses, tofu, tempeh, beans, eggs, legumes, whole grains and dried fruit. Heme iron is more easily absorbed in the body and none heme is usually less readily absorbed than heme iron. Our bodies absorb the iron from animal-based protein (heme iron) better than the iron from plant-based protein (non heme). Vitamin C helps to boost the absorption of iron in our body, especially when eaten at the same time you are eating foods that contain iron. There are certain foods that hinder the absorption of iron including phytates (in legumes and whole grains), and coffee and black tea.
If you feel like you could be lacking in iron, consult with your doctor and remember to include foods that are rich in this amazing mineral. L x