We’ve all heard that if you don’t have enough iron in your body, you can get anemia. You can get anemia when your red blood cells decrease from lack of iron. Iron is an essential mineral your body needs. Your body needs it to carry oxygen throughout your body. Did you know that iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world? Without sufficient iron, your body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, a substance in your red blood cells that allow your body to carry oxygen to your body’s tissues. When eating iron it is absorbed through the upper part of the small intestine.
- Anemia if mild, usually doesn’t cause complications. However, if you leave it untreated, anemia caused by iron deficiency can cause some severe health problems.
- A study showed that iron has relevant biological functions, for example, the formation of haemoglobin, myoglobin and numerous enzymatic groups. And without it, iron deficiency increases with the severity of heart failure.
Iron deficiency symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Pale skin
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath
- A headache, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
Who’s at risk?
Frequent blood donors – Giving blood lowers the iron in your body. The Red Cross now recommends that frequent blood donors should take a multivitamin containing iron or an iron-only supplement to replace the iron lost with each donation.
Vegetarians – Micronutrients of special concern for the vegan include vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, and long-chain n–3 (omega-3) fatty acids. Unless vegans regularly consume foods that are fortified with these nutrients, appropriate supplements should be consumed in order to get the nutrients needed. In some cases, iron and zinc status of vegans may also be of concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals.
Woman – Woman who are pregnant showed higher levels of iron deficiency than those who weren’t because their bodies are producing more blood to provide nutrients for the baby.
Infants and children – Mothers who are iron deficient transfer the iron deficiency to their children before they are born. A study showing insufficient intake of iron in children is pretty common because of low iron intake, especially in older children.
There are 2 types of iron, heme and nonheme iron. Our bodies are less efficient at absorbing nonheme iron. Plants and iron-fortified foods contain nonheme iron only, whereas meat, seafood, and poultry contain both heme and nonheme iron.
Examples of foods that have heme iron:
- Beef or Chicken liver
- Canned sardines (in oil)
Examples of foods that have nonheme iron:
- Breakfast cereals enriched with iron
- Cooked beans
- Whole eggs
- Squash seeds
- Cooked split peas
- Roasted almonds
- Roasted cashews
- Sunflower seeds
- Raw spinach
- Enriched Rice
- Dried apricots
- Baked potato
- Egg noodles
- Wheat germ
- Canned lima beans
- Canned red kidney beans
- Canned chickpeas