Stay healthy with food sources of iron

Are you feeling a little tired and sluggish? Could it be that your blood iron level (hemoglobin and…

Stay healthy with food sources of iron
Foto: flickr / megabeth

Are you feeling a little tired and sluggish? Could it be that your blood iron level (hemoglobin and ferritin) is low? Increasing your daily food sources of iron rich foods is an insurance policy against developing iron deficiency anemia.

Iron has an important function in the human body, to produce hemoglobin and oxygenate your red blood cells. It promotes a healthy immune system and gives you energy. Everyone should take care of their own iron level to avoid becoming anemic.

What causes iron depletion?

Iron deficiency is mostly caused by the poor intake of sources of iron in your diet. Menstruating women may have low iron levels, if they have heavy and prolonged periods. Deficiency may also result from poor digestion, and the overuse of antacids, from intestinal bleeding, and long-term illnesses. Vegetarians are susceptible to low iron due to their avoidance of meat products, and their strict diet. Giving blood is a charitable event, but don’t do it too often, and always have your blood iron level checked beforehand.

Not only do you feel tired, but having low iron in your blood causes dizziness, brittle hair and even hair loss, digestive disturbances, fragile bones, nervousness, shortness of breath, headaches, and inflammation of the tissues in the mouth.

It’s always easy to just pop a pill, but many will agree that iron supplements cause upset stomachs and constipation. Of course it depends on how low your iron level shows in a blood test, whether your doctor feels you need pills or not. The safest, easiest, and tastiest way to increase iron levels is to eat iron-rich foods. Foods are distinguished between heme iron (from animal sources) and non-heme (grains and produce) sources.

Plan your meals to include as many of these sources of iron that you can daily. If you consume vitamin C rich foods along with the foods from the list above, you can improve the absorption of iron in your body. Nutrition is a science that everyone should take an interest in, not only to increase iron levels, but also to make sure you are eating a balanced diet for a healthy and happy body. Anyone ready for some bean burritos and a tall glass of OJ?