You know what iron is, right? Not the material – the mineral. Iron is one of the essential minerals in the human body, playing a role in numerous important bodily functions. Although very important for our health, iron is pretty hard to absorb.
A vital part of hemoglobin, the metalloprotein that transports oxygen throughout our body, iron is essential for our health. Lack of it will almost surely result in fatigue, and serious lack of iron can even have fatal consequences. The fatigue triggered by a lack of iron in your system will cause a variety of problems, ranging from immune system dysfunction to iron, skin, and nail problems.
According to Dr. Elaine Chottiner from the University of Michigan Medical Center, women need more iron than men per day (about 9 mg.) in order to compensate for losing it through menstruation. After they reach menopause, the need for the mineral is significantly reduced. Healthy adult men need around 8 mg. of iron per day.
In children, this amount is higher. Children aged 4-8 need 10 mg., while those aged 9-13 need 8 mg. per day. Iron is also important for pregnant women – during this stressful time in a woman’s life, the body needs 20 mg. of iron daily.
The Iron Deficiency Epidemic
There’s a growing number of people suffering from iron deficiency these days, especially in the USA. Around 10% of all American women are lacking this vital mineral, and the numbers are on the rise. As it can cause serious health problems, recognizing the early signs of iron deficiency is very important.
The most common symptoms of the condition are fatigue, exhaustion, pallor, and a weakened immune system. Losing excessive amounts of iron will result in hemochromatosis or severe iron deficiency which can be very harmful. Usually, the condition is brought on by injuries and severe blood loss, gluten intolerance which can lead to poor iron absorption, and a vegetarian diet that’s poorly balanced.
The good news is that iron deficiency can be fixed if you “fix” your diet by adding the following foods on your menu:
Besides being rich in an abundance of vitamins and minerals, there’s a gram of iron in 100 gr. of broccoli. Furthermore, broccoli is rich in fiber and vitamin C among other nutrients, making it one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat.
Kale is full of vitamin C, fiber, copper, magnesium, and iron. It also contains a lot of vitamin K which is vital for your bones and a great way to prevent diabetes.
Spinach is an excellent source of iron as well as vitamin A and antioxidants. You can eat it in many ways as well, which is another plus for this green veggie.
Aside from 3.3 mg. of iron per 100 gr., lentils are also chock full of magnesium, vitamin B, and fiber.
There is 3.3 gr. of iron in 100 gr. of pumpkin seeds, making them a great source of the mineral. Pumpkin seeds are also full of amino acids as well as zinc and magnesium.
Almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, nuts, and dates are full of iron and a great snack if you’re often feeling exhausted.
Also known as one of the richest natural sources of iron, beets are the perfect remedy for iron deficiency.
Mung beans have iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium in their rich nutritional profile, and are great for treating anemia and iron deficiency.
The soy-based food contains about 19% of the recommended daily intake of iron. It’s also rich in selenium, magnesium, calcium, and thiamine among other nutrients.