Let’s Talk About Iron…


Let’s Talk About Iron…

red vein sorrel, iron containing vegetables
Tofu on salad, high iron foods

Iron is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in the body’s overall health and well-being. It is responsible for producing haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Without enough iron, the body cannot produce enough haemoglobin, which can lead to anaemia – a lack of oxygen carrying red blood cells. Read on as we explore the types of iron and high iron foods.

Types of Iron: Iron is available in two forms: haem and non-haem. Haem iron is found in animal products, such as red meat, poultry, and fish, while non-haem iron is found in plant-based foods, such as beans, lentils, spinach, and fortified cereals. Haem iron is more easily absorbed by the body than non-haem iron – hence why iron is an important mineral to consider for those on a plant-based diet.

Recommended Dietary Intake: The recommended dietary intake of iron varies based on age, gender, and overall health. The recommended daily intake for adult men is 8 milligrams, while the recommended daily intake for adult women is 18 milligrams. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding require even more iron.

Iron Deficiency: Iron deficiency can occur due to a lack of iron in the diet, poor absorption of iron in the body, or excess blood loss. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia – which is a lack of red blood cells. Symptoms of iron deficiency include the following:

  • Excessive fatigue despite good sleep
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling cold

High Iron Foods: There are many foods that are high in iron. Here are some of the best sources of haem and non-haem iron:

  • Haem Iron:

    • Red meat (beef, lamb, pork)
    • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
    • Seafood (oysters, clams, shrimp)
    • Organ meats (liver, kidneys)
  • Non-Haem Iron:

    • Beans and lentils (kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils)
    • Tofu
    • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
    • Fortified cereals and breads
    • Nuts and seeds (pumpkin seeds, cashews, pistachio nuts)
    • Eggs

Iron Absorption: The body’s ability to absorb iron can be affected by various factors. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so it’s a good idea to eat foods high in vitamin C along with iron-rich foods to maximise absorption. On the other hand, certain foods can inhibit iron absorption, such as tannins found in coffee, tea and wine, and minerals such as calcium, so if you’re looking to maximise iron absorption, limit or avoid these with your iron containing meals.

Incorporating high iron foods into your diet is an important step in maintaining good health. Keep an eye out for another post coming in the near future covering the amount of iron in certain foods, as well as high iron recipes for you to try out.

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Meet Marianne

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