Iron (Fe!) is an essential part of our diet. We need iron to build healthy red blood cells and manufacture muscle cells and enzymes. Getting enough iron in your diet can be tough, especially for women who are active or limiting calories. Without healthy red blood cells your body can't get enough oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. That's no good!
People who lack adequate iron in the their diet develop iron deficiency anemia. The most common symptoms are tiredness and fatigue, but many related problems can also be due to iron deficiency - difficulty concentrating at school or work, slow cognitive functioning, and a strained immune system. Hmmmm?
Who is at risk?
Those most likely to suffer from iron deficiency and anemia include:
-Infants and children. Especially those born small or early.
-Women who menstruate. So, all of us, at some point.
-People with poor dietary habits
-People who are very ill
How much do you need?
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18-20mg for women and 10mg for men. During adolescence and pregnancy these needs increase. Most of us only absorb about 10% of the iron in food or supplements. Getting your iron from food is the best way to absorb it.
How do I get it?
Animal products, like red meat and dark poultry contain the highest concentration of iron. Fish, white meat, eggs contain less but are also good sources. Dark leafy greens and veggies, dried fruits, beans, peas and molasses are other non-meat sources.
Tips to help you increase the amount of iron you absorb:
-Cook with an iron skillet. You can double or triple the amount of iron in the food you cook.
-Eat iron rich foods along with food high in Vitamin C. Oranges, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, peppers and melons are all good choices.
-Avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals.
-Eat your veggies and meat together at meals.
-Avoid bran, calcium supplements, Vitamin E and antacids when trying to increase iron absorption.
A simple blood test can tell you if you need more iron in your diet.
Consult your doctor about the right amount for you.
Iron supplements come in various forms and can be purchased at most grocery or drug stores.
Iron can also be very toxic. Keep away from children and take only what you need, when you need it.
I am certainly no expert on iron deficiency, although I am learning a lot as I deal with the problem myself - contributions to the discussion are WELCOME! What has worked for you? What are your favorite iron rich recipes?
Love to hear from you.
More info @ http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html