Know Your Vitamins: Iron

On 10/17/2010, in My Health, by HCC

So as I said in our first “Know Your Vitamins” post, we would be discussing certain supplements that were not strictly speaking vitamins. We all pop our morning “vitamins” without realizing that some of what we consider the most important supplements, calcium, iron, potassium, are actually dietary minerals. So up first in the dietary mineral category, iron.

Iron has more meaning in being healthy than just “pumping iron”. Eating iron filled foods or getting plenty of iron from a supplement is key to being and feeling healthy. Two-thirds of the iron in your body is found in hemoglobin, the protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body.

A simple blood test at your doctor’s office can determine if you have an iron deficiency. A lack of iron can lead to fatigue and a decreased immune system. Extreme iron deficiency is called Anemia.

So if our bodies are lacking iron and we’re tired and getting sick, how do we turn it around? Start eating iron rich foods! But of course its slightly more complicated than that. There are 2 types of iron, heme and nonheme. Heme irons are better absorbed in your blood stream but are primarily found in meat proteins ie chicken livers, oysters, beef, etc. Since meat is a no go zone for many vegetarians, and others on low meat diets we have a slew of foods that contain nonheme iron. Yes, nonheme iron is not absorbed as easily into the blood stream but it can be found in so many foods ie oatmeal, soybeans, spinach, raisins and it still contains that much needed iron.

Iron deficiency can effect your energy levels and immune system. While these aren’t extreme effects they can impact your day to day life. However, having a healthy amount of iron in your body is easy to do. So take that supplement or go eat a steak and be good to yourself!

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