The Importance of Iron

By on 05/25/2017

iron deficiency exhaustionIron is a vital mineral needed by our bodies in order to properly function. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the population, especially women, suffer from iron deficiency, sometimes referred to as anemia.

(In fact, The recommended daily dietary allowance for iron for 19-to-50-year-old women is 18 mg and only 8 mg for men!)

Without intervention and treatment, the side effects of iron deficiency can become very severe and even require hospitalization!

Why is Iron Important?

Iron is crucial for the production of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs. Additionally, your body needs proper amounts of iron to transport electrons through the cells, which supports proper enzyme levels and healthy tissues.

Without enough iron, your body does not get enough oxygen, which results in a whole list of health problems.

Side Effects of  Iron Deficiency:

  • Drastic drop in energy levels, regardless of how much sleep and rest you get
  • Poor motor skills
  • Hair loss and weak nails
  • Foggy thinking
  • Weakened immune system
  • Pale appearance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Sore tongue and difficulty swallowing

If you think you may have low iron, all it takes is a very quick and simple blood test to find out for sure.

How to Treat Iron Deficiency

One of the issues with iron is while you may be eating a ton of iron rich foods, your body only absorbs between 2-20% of the iron content.

A Dietary change is a great first step in upping your iron levels. Doctors recommend increasing your consumption of iron rich meats like beef, chicken, turkey and pork. You can also focus on eating more peas, lentils, beans, chickpeas and soy beans, iron-fortified breads and cereals, dried fruits, and dark leafy veggies. Please note, however, that the body tends to absorb iron from meat sources (known as heme iron) better than other food types. So if your diet allows, focus in on higher quantities of iron-rich meat.iron rich meat

Vitamin C. When paired with iron rich foods, a vitamin C supplement helps increase the absorption of iron by the intestines.

Avoid Antacids. The high levels of calcium and magnesium found in antacids actually work to compete with iron for absorption by your body, resulting in lower iron levels. To allow time for your body to absorb as much iron as possible, don’t take antacids after iron-rich meals.

Iron supplements. If you have tried some of the more natural ways to increase your iron with little success, your doctor may recommend an over the counter or prescription strength iron supplement. These supplements are very effective in filling up your iron reserves within a few months, but they do come with a few side effects including dark stools, stomach irritation, heartburn, and constipation. Some people experience all of the side effects while others experience none. If your iron levels are crucially low then it is worth it to try!iron supplements

Blood transfusions. Blood transfusions are a more direct way to treat iron deficiency as they simply pump iron rich blood into your body intravenously which instantly provides you with oxygen-rich red blood cells which can help your body rebalance its own iron levels.

Iron therapy. Doctors use iron therapy to treat severe cases of iron deficiency that are untreatable by other methods. Iron is injected directly into a muscle or via an IV line. It must be performed in a medical facility so any safety concerns can be addressed.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies around the world. Lucky for you, if you’re reading this, it means you most likely live in a developed region of the world and thus have access to all of the different foods, supplements and methods used to treat iron deficiency and ensure your body stays strong and functions property. Even if you aren’t currently feeling the effects of low iron, it’s important to stay on top of it by eating iron rich foods daily.

About modernhealthproject

Hi there! This is my little blog project where I am trying to learn more about health, wellness and living a balanced life, while also sharing a bit of my silly side as well. By "silly" I mean sarcastic. And by "a bit" I mean way too much. Sorry about that.♥ - Anna

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