Iron is a mineral, and its main purpose is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells from your lungs throughout the body so cells can produce energy. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin. Because, hemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the body’s iron. Iron also helps remove carbon dioxide. If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough healthy oxygen-carrying red Blood cells. A lack of red blood cells is called iron deficiency Anemia.
How much iron do you need?
10 milligrams daily from ages 4 to 8.
8 milligrams daily from ages 9 to 13.
Women need more iron because they lose blood each month during their period. That’s why women from ages 19 to 50 need to get 18 mg of iron each day, while men the same age can get away with just 8 mg- 10 mg.
Symptoms of iron deficiency
When levels of iron are low, fatigue, weakness and difficulty maintaining body temperature often results, other symptoms may include:
* Feel short of breath
* Have a fast heartbeat
* Have cold hands and feet
* Have brittle and spoon-shaped nails or hair loss
* Pale skin and fingernails
* Glossitis (inflamed tongue)
Food sources which have iron in them
Some Iron enriched foods are Tofu, Soybeans, nuts and Seeds, lentils, Leafy Greens (Spinach, kale), Oats, Quinoa, Fruits, Meat and dairy products.
Iron in food exists as two types, heme and non-heme. Animal foods such as meat, seafood and poultry provide both types and are better absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods, such as spinach and beans, grains that are enriched, like rice and bread and some fortified breakfast cereals. To increase the absorption of iron from plant sources, it’s recommended to eat them with meat, seafood, or poultry or a good source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries or bell peppers.
A good way to improve your iron intake is by eating a balanced, healthy diet that includes a variety of foods.