Iron is an essential mineral for daily bodily function. The mineral is required for the production of red blood cells and carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. A proper functioning immune system relies on sufficient iron which in turn helps us to fight infection.
Iron helps our muscles to store and use oxygen allowing them to work at their optimum, particularly during exercise. Inadequate iron in the body can impair aerobic metabolism by decreasing the delivery of oxygen to tissues and reducing the capacity of muscles to use oxygen for the oxidative production of energy.
ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH IRON?
The average person needs to absorb just a small amount of iron (around 1-1.5 mg) each day to stay healthy. To give you an idea, 1 punnet of strawberries contains 1.5 milligrams of iron. However, to achieve this we need to consume several times that amount as our bodies absorb only a fraction of the iron contained in the foods we eat. Iron is lost from the body through shedding intestinal cells, sweat and blood loss.
BOOST YOUR IRON ABSORPTION
Depending on the amount of iron already stored in your body, your body can absorb less or more iron from the foods you eat (ie. low iron stores increase your ability to absorb iron). Iron absorption is higher at 15-18% from foods that contain haem iron (red meat, seafood and poultry) and is much lower with less than 5% in non-haem iron foods (cereals, vegetables, legumes and nuts).
You can boost the absorption of non-haem iron by combining sources of haem iron with non-haem iron foods such as fruit with a sandwich or juice with breakfast.
To boost the amount of iron in your diet, try foods such as:
- Red meat = 3mg per 100g serve
- Egg yolks = 2mg per 100g serve
- Dark, leafy greens = 4.5mg per 145g cooked
- Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans = 2mg per 100g cooked
- Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops) = 3.9mg per 100g
- Iron-enriched cereals and grains (be sure to check the nutrition labels)= 2.5mg per 30g (1cup)
- Dried fruit (prunes, raisins, peaches, apricots) = 1.6mg per 50g
- White potatoes= 1.9mg per large potato
- Broccoli= 0.3 mg per ½ cup serve
- Strawberries = 1.5mg per punnet
If iron stores are low, the transport of oxygen starts to diminish resulting in symptoms such as
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Decreased endurance during exercise
- Increased frequency of infection (colds, flu)
- Ridges along the fingernails
- Paleness and/or dark circles under the eyes
Iron deficiency anaemia is diagnosed with a blood test and you may be advised by your doctor to take iron supplements. At Elite Vitamin Zone we offer a range of iron supplements in liquid and tablet form from leading brands including Floravital’s Liquid Iron and Vitamin Formula.