The following is a sponsored post from MegaFood.
Why Does Iron Matter?
Iron is the most abundant trace mineral in the body. It is also the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).1 Populations at risk for iron deficiency include menstruating women, pregnant women, vegans and vegetarians, female athletes, and blood donors.
In the United States, approximately “10 percent of women between 12 and 49 years of age have iron deficiency”.2 As a Naturopathic Doctor who’s also had iron deficiency in the past, I’m particularly passionate about sharing education on iron.
Iron has several important jobs to do in the body, such as supporting cellular energy production, healthy brain function, and the ability to maintain a healthy body temperature. We also need iron to produce hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all of our body’s tissues.
This is why low energy, trouble concentrating, and struggling to stay warm are some signs that you may have less-than-optimal iron levels! If you suspect that you may be low in iron, be sure to check in with your doctor, so that you can have your iron levels checked with a blood test.
Whenever I’m looking to support my body with a specific nutrient, I always turn to food first. If you’re searching for ways to up your iron levels through foods, there are some good options available for you, especially if you are supporting a certain dietary lifestyle like Paleo or vegetarian.
First a quick lesson on heme and non-heme. Heme iron is the type of iron that is found in animal proteins, and is derived from hemoglobin. Heme iron is found in animal food sources such as;
Beef & beef liver
On the other hand, non-heme iron is found in vegetarian food sources and is the form of iron added to iron-fortified foods. Other vegetarian food sources of iron include;
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale
Iron-fortified breakfast cereals
Soybeans, black beans and lentils are high in iron, but the amount absorbed can be low because these foods contain a compound called phytic acid which binds up the non-heme iron. If you are a vegetarian woman, you’ll want to be extra mindful of your iron food sources, since in general heme iron is better absorbed than non-heme iron.
One of my favorite things about food is the synergy that happens with different nutrients. For example, non-heme iron absorption can be improved by consuming vitamin C foods at the same time as your iron foods3. C-containing food options include citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, kale and strawberries. I see a kale, tomato and tofu salad in my future!
Knowledge is power. Knowing a variety of food sources of iron can help you include daily amounts of this small, yet powerful mineral that does so much in our bodies! Now if these foods aren’t your favorite or your doctor has suggested additional iron supplementation, perhaps because you are pregnant, I recommend MegaFood Blood Builder® a unique iron supplement made with nourishing, whole foods like beets and organic oranges, plus folic acid and Vitamin B12 for healthy red blood cell production, and vitamin C to support iron absorption.* Blood Builder was shown in a clinical study to deliver a gentle and effective dose of iron without the side effects of nausea and constipation.*†
2. Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More. Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.
3. Lynch SR, Cook JD. Interaction of vitamin C and iron. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1980;355:32–44. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1980.tb21325.x
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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