Published: 07/17/2018 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Iron is a mineral that should never be absent in your diet. This is an element that, when combined with oxygen, produces a protein called hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and more generally, every cell in the body. It is also an essential component of myoglobin, yet another important protein that transports oxygen to the muscles. In addition to this important task of transporting oxygen, this mineral has other properties that make it absolutely necessary for the body.
- An essential mineral in collagen, an important protein found in cartilage, bones, and all connective tissues.
- Present in in several enzymes in the body
- An important component during pregnancy as a great deal of this mineral, when consumed, is used by the mother to increase blood levels by 50%. The remaining iron in the mother’s body is absorbed and used by the fetus and placenta for development.
- Prevents and fights anemia
- Strengthens and revitalizes the body
Which foods contain iron?
The greatest source of iron is lean red meat. chicken, and seafood. The liver contains a high concentration of iron. This mineral is also found in egg yolks, fresh vegetables, and grains like lentils, nuts, spinach, seaweed, tomato, pollen, etc. If you eat a vegetarian diet, it is absolutely necessary to watch your iron intake.
It’s important to keep in mind that the presence of vitamin C is necessary for iron to be absorbed and properly synthesized by the body. It’s simply not enough to consume enough iron, vitamin C is necessary as well. Vitamin C can be found in all citrus fruits like lemon, pineapple, guava, oranges, grapefruit, etc. Vitamin C is also available in broccoli, pollen, seaweeds, and other legumes. We recommend drinking fresh citrus fruit juices, just squeezed, as vitamin C tends to oxidize with exposure to air, light, or high temperatures.
Also, keep in mind that foods containing caffeine diminish iron absorption in the body. Drinking too much coffee, tea or cocoa interferes with correct iron absorption.
How to know if you lack iron
Symptoms present themselves in several ways: when you’re constantly drowsy, tired or week. Other symptoms include pale skin – especially noticeable in the lips and under the eyes – anemia, shortness of breath, poor concentration, bad mood, and feeling weak. Even though the average consumption per person is between 70 mg to 120 mg of iron, it is always still advisable to be evaluated by a specialist.
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