Why do we need iron?
Iron in the body is a component of haemoglobin; which is responsible for transporting oxygen around the body.
Iron also contributes towards our cognitive ability and immune system.
Where do you get it?
Iron is present in two forms in food; haem (found in meat, poultry and fish) and non-haem (found in plants, dairy and eggs).
Haem iron sources: red meat, fish, poultry and liver*
*avoid during pregnancy as it’s high in Vitamin A
Non-haem iron sources: lentils, beans, green leafy vegetables, nuts (pistachio nuts have 14mg of iron per 100g compared to cashew nuts which have 6mg per 100g) and fortified products such as breakfast cereals.
Other things to bear in mind:
Consuming vitamin C can aid the absorption of non-haem iron! For example citrus fruit (oranges), broccoli, strawberries and red/green peppers.
Calcium in milk/dairy and phytic acid in wholegrains can inhibit some iron absorption.
Supplements: There are a wide range of iron supplements on the retail market ranging from oral tablets to sprays to liquids. I have tried quite a few iron supplements, I dislike the oral tablets due to the side effects, Spatone mixed with orange juice is good but you need the orange juice otherwise it has a metal taste, Floradix is pretty good because it’s just one thing to take and contains other vitamins and minerals which aid absorption. Recently I’ve been trying a new Iron Oral Spray* product which has less side effects than tablets as it is absorbed directly into the blood stream.
How much do we need?
Women need have higher requirements for iron (14.8 mg per day) compared to men (8.5 mg per day). This is because some women who lose a lot of blood during their period may be at higher risk of iron deficiency anaemia. Women over 50 years old just need 8.7 mg per day.
Most people typically meet their iron requirement by eating a balanced and varied diet, however vegetarians and women with heavy periods are more at risk.
What are the signs of deficiency?
Feeling tired all the time, lack of energy, pale skin and heart palpitations.
If you are experiencing the above symptoms you may have iron deficiency anaemia, please make an appointment to see your GP who will send you for blood tests if they suspect you are iron deficient.
What are the signs of excess?
According to the NHS a high dose of iron exceeds 20 mg and symptoms can include; feeling sick and/or being sick, constipation and stomach pain.
NHS – Iron deficiency anaemia
BDA – Iron Food Fact Sheet
*I was gifted the BetterYou Iron Oral Spray to try. All views are 100% my own. This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see your GP before taking any supplements. Read my full disclaimer here.