Understanding the Importance of Iron and What Your Lack of It Can Do
Metals are essential for all major industries worldwide, from construction and technology to education and healthcare. One such metal is iron, which also doubles as a nutrient vital for our body’s proper functioning. Let’s understand what it is, why is it essential for our body, and what foods can you eat to get your daily dose of the nutrient.
What Makes Iron So Special?
Iron is a mineral required by our body for growth and development. Our body uses iron to make haemoglobin and myoglobin, responsible for carrying and providing oxygen from the lungs to parts of the body and muscles, respectively. Our body also requires iron for hormone synthesis. Your daily recommended iron intake depends on your age, sex, and what type of diet you regularly consume.
Foods Packing Your Daily Dose of Iron
People on plant-based diets need higher amounts of iron-rich foods as the body does not absorb nonheme iron contents of the plant-based foods as effectively as animal-based heme iron. However, many options are available for keeping your iron levels in check. These are some of the best dietary sources of iron for carnivore and herbivore audiences.
While some health risks concern consuming seafood and shellfish, the benefits outweigh the risks. It is an iron-rich food source that is tasty while being extremely nutritious. Additionally, the iron contents of shellfish are heme iron, which the body more readily absorbs than the plant-based alternatives. It also increases the healthy HDL cholesterol contents in your blood.
The secret to Popeye The Sailor Man’s energy is also an impeccable source of iron worldwide. It provides us with numerous health benefits while having significantly fewer calories. Although the iron in spinach is the nonheme form, spinach is also rich in vitamin C, which substantially boosts iron absorption in the body.
Moreover, spinach also contains antioxidants called carotenoids, known for reducing inflammation, protecting the eyes from infections, and reducing cancer. Consuming spinach and other leafy green veggies with fats can aid your body in absorbing the carotenoids present in them. Hence, we recommend you couple spinach and other leafy veggies with healthy fats like olive oil.
It is a popular pseudo cereal that is a rich source of iron. Quinoa does not contain gluten, making it an excellent plant-based source of iron for people having celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Besides having high iron content, it is a better source of other nutrients like folate than other common grains.
Ways to identify whether you are lacking iron
If you are facing shortness of breath, unusual tiredness, headaches and pale skin, you might probably be experiencing the symptoms of an iron deficiency. To confirm, you must visit your healthcare provider and share your symptoms. Based on your symptoms, your doctor will ask you to get a complete blood check (CBC) done. The reports of your CBC diagnosis will indicate whether you have an iron deficiency or are facing another issue.
How can your iron levels drop so drastically?
People can experience an iron deficiency at any given age due to numerous factors. Some of the most common causes of iron deficiency are a lesser intake of iron due to an imbalanced diet. Women can experience an iron deficiency during periods or pregnancy if they do not increase their iron intake to tackle the increased iron requirements of the body. Specific health ailments can also trigger iron deficiency in people, like stomach ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease or bowel cancer.
How to tackle your iron deficiency?
If you think you have an iron deficiency and the doctor confirms the same, you can make a few changes to your lifestyle to counter the lack and reduce the symptoms you are experiencing. The first step in getting your iron deficiency back to normal is incorporating iron-rich foods into your daily diet. Additionally, if your iron shortage is severe and the doctor deems it necessary, you must take iron supplements to cover the lack of iron in your body.
You must also ensure that you do not consume iron supplements with foods, supplements or medications that contain calcium. Calcium is known to decrease the iron absorption capacity of the body. Pairing iron-rich foods or iron supplements with vitamin C can help boost your body’s iron absorption.
You can keep your iron and other nutrient levels in check with a few alterations to your lifestyle and a well-balanced diet. Based on the information mentioned above, create a diet plan to help you maintain optimum iron levels in the body. And, if you experience the symptoms of an iron deficiency, visit your doctor as soon as possible.