Low iron levels are common and often leave you feeling tired, unfocused and sickly and can lead to a more serious condition called anaemia. Anaemia is when you’re running low on the healthy red blood cells that transport oxygen around our body. Iron supplements are therefore a popular solution for anyone looking to find their vigour and inject energy back in to their lifestyle.
Iron is available in both animal and plant sources: beef, eggs, spinach, sweet potato and chickpeas. Iron supplements are also extremely popular as they provide a quick, cheap and effective method of reversing low iron levels. It’s important to keep an eye on how much iron that you’re taking - too much can harm your health and in severe cases it can even lead to organ failure!
So what is iron? It’s a mineral that is essential for producing haemoglobin. Haemoglobin carries oxygen around our bodies providing us with energy and supporting our immune system. The amount of iron that we need depends on our age and gender - adult males need around 8.7mg per day where as adult females need almost twice as much (14.8mg). It’s best to speak to your GP about what level or iron intake is best for you.
Why do we need different amounts? Women lose blood every month during menstruation and they also require additional iron during pregnancy to support the growth and development of their baby. According to research data, 33% of women will be anaemic during their life time and 20% are anaemic during pregnancy.
The amount of iron that we require can also depend on how active we are. Iron transports oxygen to our muscles and controls the release of energy and is equally as beneficial during rest and recovery. Did you know that we lose a lot of iron when we sweat? Ensuring that we have a well balanced diet and sufficient nutrient intake of which iron is really important, ensuring that we can replenish and repair cell tissue and improve our overall health and wellbeing.
If your iron levels are low it is worth while increase your vitamin C intake. Some research suggests that vitamin C helps to improve iron absorption. Vitamin C is also a really powerful antioxidant and has plenty of health benefits in its own right. Making small changes to your lifestyle can also help - NHS guidance adds that tea, coffee, cereal and milk can prevent the absorption of iron.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency such as a lack of energy, shortness of breath, frequent bouts of illness, hair loss, it’s important to search medical advice immediately! Go and book yourself in to see your GP.
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