Iron is a very important mineral the body requires to work well. It is very essential for you to eat an appropriate amount of iron every day. Just so you know, the type of food you eat indicates how much iron you take in and how much your body puts to use. The body uses the Iron as a building block for hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that help transport oxygen all around the body.
Iron also makes up myoglobin, a source of protein that stores oxygen and can be found in the muscles. You make use of this oxygen whenever you make use of your muscles.
It is recommended that everyone should consume about 7-18 mg daily while pregnant women are expected to eat up to 27 grams daily.
The types of iron that are quickly soaked up by the body are heme sources of iron. Heme refers to those irons that are similar to those used to manufacture RBCs. Heme iron can be gotten from red meats, liver, chicken, seafood, and eggs.
Non-Heme iron is sources of iron that needs to be processed before they can function. It requires vitamin C, A or Beta-Carotene to make it function in the body. If these vitamins are not taken with it, it cannot be used by the body. Non-Heme iron can be gotten from dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, blackstrap molasses and dried fruits. It can also be gotten from herbs like cayenne, kelp peppermint, and rose hips.
Anemia which is an iron deficiency is usually treated with supplements that contain an Elemental iron source like Ferrous Sulfate. Elemental iron requires a transformation like the vitamins written above. Whenever you buy a bottle of Elemental iron, it may state that every tablet contains 325 mg of iron. However, the body only absorbs and makes use of 65 mg.
A very interesting fact about iron and almost all the vitamins and minerals is that the body absorbs more of it when it is highly needed. All sources of iron cause your stool to turn dark or almost black, if you notice this, don’t get worried as this is a normal occurrence.
I will suggest that you do not take iron supplements for the following reasons
If you take iron supplements when the body does not require any can result to other health issues like heart diseases, it can damage the liver too. Adult men and women who have passed the stage of menstruating should not take supplements that have iron in them except it was prescribed by a medical practitioner.
Maximizing absorption of iron
Iron can be obtained from many vegetables, nuts, and grains but just as it was stated earlier, the body can’t put it to use without the aid of some vitamins and minerals, without these converters, the food will be washed from the body. So, whenever you eat non-heme iron make sure to take in vitamins to make it usable.
Do not take iron supplements or meals rich in iron with coffee, dairy products, alcohol or teas as these drinks make the iron ineffective even if you take a converter like a vitamin C.
Some foods can actually help improve your body’s capacity to absorb iron. Foods rich in vitamin C like orange. Vitamin C is known to enhance iron absorption. It binds non-heme iron and stores it in a simpler form which makes it easier for the body to absorb.
For vegetarians and vegan diets, iron absorption can be increased by adding vegetables that have vitamin C to the meal. Foods with Vitamin A, Beta- Carotene like carrots.
Vitamin a is responsible for improving your sight, bone growth, and the immune system. Beta-Carotene is a red-orange pigmented found in plants and fruits. It can be changed to vitamin A in the body. Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A can be obtained from carrot, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, squash, red peppers, cantaloupe, apricots, oranges, and peaches.
A test was carried out on 100 people, who were given cereal-based meals and it was discovered that the presence of vitamin an improved iron absorption by 200% for rice, 80% for wheat and 140% for corn and when beta-carotene was added to the meal it increased absorption to more than 300% for rice and 180% for wheat and corn.
Meat, Fish and Poultry, Cooked Chicken Breast
Meat fish and protein provide well-absorbed heme iron and can also assist in the absorption of the non-heme form. Different studies have shown that including beef, chicken or fish to a cereal-based meal produces about 2-3 times higher non-heme iron absorption.
Recent studies have also proved that adding 75 grams of meat to a meal increases the absorption of non-heme iron by about 2.5 times, compared to a meal without it.
It was estimated that 1 gram of meat, fish or poultry provides enhancing effects similar to that of 1 mg of vitamin C.