When I was a kid my mum used to buy me a lot of apples. She said I needed to eat them as apples are rich in iron. I love apples and eat a lot of them, but do I get enough iron from them? Do you follow the old proverb “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?
Imagine you’re ready to run a marathon and all of a sudden you feel weak and dizzy. You spend a couple of minutes trying to put yourself together, but your legs are getting heavy and you have no energy to do anything. You give up and end up going home. The lack of sleep and dehydration may have nothing to do with your sudden fatigue symptoms. Iron deficiency or anemia might be the reason behind it.
What is it?
Low levels of iron in your body can cause iron deficient anemia. Poor diet habits, blood loss or inability of your body to consume iron from food are common reasons of iron deficiency.
In order to establish a symptom ‘anemia’ you need to get your blood tested. If your blood has a low level of red blood cells and a low level of hemoglobin that means you’re anemic. Iron-rich protein hemoglobin plays crucial role in carrying oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. If your body does not have enough iron it starts using the iron stored in your system. And when all iron is gone your body produces less hemoglobin in your red blood cells. This, in return, might case fatigue, chest pains, and even heart problems in severe cases.
- Iron from red meat, chicken and fish is absorbed faster than iron from vegetables and fruit
- If you eat your meat with food rich in Vitamin C it will enhance the absorption of iron in your stomach
- If you enjoy drinking coffee, tea, milk or any dairy products during your meal, the amount of absorbed iron will be significantly decreased. Calcium prevents absorption of iron if mixed together
- Even if you’re a vegetarian, you can still find a right balance of iron in your food. For example you can try looking for chewable iron or iron supplements
If you do sports on a regular basis you might be at risk of iron deficiency for many reasons. First of all, sporty people have a higher blood volume that makes their blood more diluted and keeps their hemoglobin on a lower end. Active training causes active sweating. As a matter of fact you lose iron through sweat. Women are particularly at risk because they lose blood during their menstrual periods.
At the same time, you can prevent the iron loss if you follow some simple rules. Women need about 15 (pre-menopausal) to 10 (post-menopausal) mg of iron per day, while men should keep it at 10 mg per day at all times. You need to keep an eye on your diet. Eat food rich in iron: liver, red meat, green vegetables, fish, egg yolks, chicken, dried fruit, and tofu. Or consult your doctor about iron supplements.
Kate Simmons is a fresh graduate and occasional blogger who currently works as a diet and nutrition advisor.