Are you getting enough iron?

Iron deficiency is becoming a widespread problem for Australians. We need iron for energy, brainpower and to strengthen our immune systems. It’s what assists us to get through a long, gruelling day. Yet interestingly, many people mistake subtle iron deficiency symptoms as just being a little busy.

If you’ve been experiencing tiredness, a lack of energy, poor concentration, irritability or frequent infections lately, then it’s definitely worth checking if you’re meeting your daily iron needs. A simple blood check at your local GP can confirm this.

In the meantime, here are some of the best ways we can keep our iron within a healthy range and prevent iron deficiency:

Eat iron-rich foods

Regularly include iron-rich foods in your diet to maintain healthy iron levels. Iron in foods with high concentration are absorbed by the body differently since there are two types found in food: Haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is very easy for the body to absorb. It’s present in red meat, pork, chicken, fish and offal (kidney and liver).

While non-haem iron isn’t at greatly absorbed by the body, it’s still essential to consume. It’s found in eggs, nuts, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, wholemeal pasta and bread, and dark green leafy vegetables. Vegetarians can increase their iron intake levels by leaving the skin on baked potatoes and increasing bean intake.

Maximise iron absorption

Combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods can dramatically maximise iron absorption. Berries, tomatoes, oranges and capsicum are just some examples of vitamin C-rich foods you can benefit from eating.

Consider iron supplements

If you’re experiencing iron deficiency, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement to encourage your iron levels to return to normal. Though, they should only be used until your iron levels return to normal because iron supplements can interfere with the absorption of other essential nutrients such as zinc. Large doses are also known to cause constipation and an iron load can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing.

Remember, iron is an important dietary mineral that is needed to assist various bodily functions; especially transporting oxygen in blood around the body to cells and the brain. Low iron levels can lead to anaemia. So make it a habit to eat iron-rich foods regularly.

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