Iron 101: Facts About Iron
Why is iron important anyway? Read below interesting facts about iron.
The nutrient that feeds your body & your brain.
Iron is the nutrient that helps blood move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and it helps muscles store & use oxygen. Here are the iron nutrition facts.
Low iron levels can impact :
- Energy levels
- Performance at work / school
- Cognitive development
- Learning & Earning potential
Symptoms of low iron include:
- Brittle Nails
- Hair Loss
- Feeling Weak
- Constantly Tired
- Shortness of Breath
- Heart Palpitations
- Pale Complexion
- Frequent Nausea
Extreme cases of iron deficiency can be fatal, and are usually treated with blood transfusions.
If left untreated, iron deficiency can make people more susceptible to illness and infection.
Who Does Iron Deficiency Impact?
Though everyone is susceptible to developing iron deficiency or anemia at different times in their lives, particular groups of people are more at risk than others. These are the facts about iron you need to know:
- Women; especially during pregnancy.
- Children; especially in their early years when they are still developing cognitive functions.
- People with low levels of iron in their diet (e.g. vegetarians & vegans).
- High-performance athletes.
What Foods Are Rich In Iron?
There are two types of iron available in our diets: Heme iron and Non-Heme iron.
Animal-based foods (meats, poultry, seafood, and fish) contain both Heme and Non-Heme iron,
Animal products (dairy & eggs) also contain Non-Heme iron, whereas
Plant-based foods (vegetables, grains, legumes, etc.) only contain Non-Heme iron.
Our bodies absorb Heme iron a lot more readily than Non-Heme iron. Some iron-rich foods include:
- Liver and other organ meats
- Shellfish- such as oysters, clams, mussels
- Steak and other red meats
- Chicken, Turkey, Duck, and other poultry
- Dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale)
- Legumes - such as chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, kidney beans
- Nuts & seeds, especially pumpkin seeds
How Much Iron Do I Need?
Per USDA and Health Canada, your recommended iron levels depend on your age & gender.
Your iron requirements also depend on the type of lifestyle you lead.
Therefore, iron requirement for vegans/ vegetarians is 1.8 times higher. Daily recommended iron intake is also higher for high performing athletes.