Iron Rich Food

Are you getting enough?

Iron deficiency is most often caused by not eating enough iron rich food.  Sounds pretty obvious, but when you are experiencing unusual bouts of breathlessness, then a shortage of iron in your diet could be a contributing factor.   

The most important job that iron has in the body is assisting with the transport and storage of oxygen.  

Iron forms the structure of red blood cells so that oxygen can bind itself to to each cell and then be transported around the body and deposited in the muscles where it can be used.  

Once the iron has delivered the oxygen, it then binds with the waste carbon dioxide in the blood where it is then transported back in the blood to the lungs where it is exhaled.  

Iron rich food is needed in the body for the following:

  • Structure and function of haemoglobin and myoglobin – haemoglobin is needed for transporting oxygen in red blood cells and myoglobin helps to store oxygen in muscles
  • Structure and function of proteins involved in energy production.
  • DNA production and reproduction
  • Thyroid hormone production
  • Production of bacteria killing enzyme in white blood cells

The amount of iron needed in our diet varies but in general women require twice as much iron as men, due to their monthly periods.  

Also, strict vegetarians require iron from various sources as their long-term lack of iron from meat sources can lead to anaemia.   

Foods High In Iron

  • Offal, especially liver and kidney
  • Meat, especially red meats
  • Shellfish
  • Fish
  • Dried fruit
  • Wholegrains, especially germ and bran
iron rich food

It should be noted that woman who are pregnant or trying to conceive should not eat liver or kidney due to the risk of consuming excessive amounts of vitamin A.

Vegetables high in iron include:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Avocados
  • Kelp
  • Pumpkins
  • Watercress

Iron works hand in hand with vitamin C to help plant based sources of iron to be absorbed into the body more easily.  This is very useful for helping vegetarians to maintain healthy levels of iron.

Symptoms of iron deficiency

  • Susceptibility to infection
  • Anaemia
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Breathlessness
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Sore tongue
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Impaired growth and mental function in children

It is not necessary to take iron supplements unless you have been diagnosed with anaemia.  Our daily diet, assuming it is wide and varied, should contain enough iron to maintain required levels.

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