Iron helps the body in many important processes. For example, it is an essential part of haemoglobin, the red pigment in our blood that allows it to carry oxygen around the body.
Low iron levels
If iron levels are low, the amount of haemoglobin in our red blood cells, as well as the number of red blood cells, is reduced. This is called anaemia.
Symptoms include tiredness and lethargy, difficulty concentrating and a shortened attention span.
All the tissues and cells in the body depend on oxygen to function properly; if they receive less oxygen, they won’t work so well.
On average, adult men need 8.7mg of iron a day. For women the figure is 14.8mg.
Foods containing iron
Red meat is the richest source of iron. The iron in animal sources is absorbed easily by the body.
There is also iron in pulses (such as lentils and beans), dried fruit, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and in fortified breakfast cereals. The iron in these foods is not so easily absorbed by the body
Liver is another rich source of iron, but it is also very high in vitamin A. So if you eat liver or liver products such as pâté every week, you might want to choose not to have it more often and you should avoid taking supplements containing vitamin A or fish liver oils (which are high in vitamin A).
People at a higher risk of osteoporosis, which includes women who have been through the menopause and older men, should also avoid having too much vitamin A.
If you’re pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant you should avoid eating liver and liver products because of the amount of vitamin A they contain.
Eating a balanced diet that includes food from the iron rich food list can help prevent iron deficiency.
Iron Deficiency Anemia is a condition where a person has inadequate amounts of iron to meet body demands. It is a decrease in the amount of red cells in the blood caused by having too little iron.
Recommended daily intake of iron
-Children from birth to age 6 months – 10 mg daily
-Children from ages 6 months to 4 years – 15 mg daily
-Females ages 11 to 50 – 18 mg
-Females over age 50 – 10 mg
-Pregnant women – 30 to 60 mg
-Males ages 10 to 18 – 18 mg
-Males over age 19 – 10 mg
Iron Absorption Enhancers
-Fruits: Orange, Orange Juice, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapefruit etc
-Vegetables: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomato, tomato juice, potato, green & red peppers