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Do you find yourself struggling to stay awake during the day?
You could be suffering from an iron deficiency.
Iron is an essential mineral that occurs naturally in animal and plant foods. It is synthetically added to food products and can also be supplemented.
This mineral is an integral part of red blood cell production. Iron helps make up hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen to different cells in the body.
LOW iron status will create less hemoglobin in the red blood cells. As a result body cells will not get the adequate amount of oxygen they need to thrive and function properly. Thus causing fatigue and tiredness.
Iron is also a part of the protein myoglobin which carries oxygen to the muscles helping to facilitate metabolism.
Adequate iron intake is needed for hormone and connective tissue production as well as growth and development
Iron is found in 2 forms:
HEME IRON – Is the iron that forms when iron combines with a compound called protoporphyrin IX. Heme iron is found in animal products like poultry, meat, seafood. The best sources are from grass fed organ meats like liver and marrow.
NON-HEME IRON – Is not attached to heme protein molecules and occurs in plants and fortified foods. It can be found in nuts, beans, vegetables, and fortified grain products.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE AT RISK?
High risk groups include
- Pregnant women
- Infants and young children
- Women with heavy periods
- Frequent blood donors
- People with cancer
- People digestive issues, those who have had or gastrointestinal surgery
- People with heart failure
- Those with thyroid conditions
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE LOW?
The best way to tell is to get a blood test of you ferritin levels.
Ferritin is the stored form of iron in your body.
Adequate iron level is have in a Ferritin of over 60 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL)
VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN? YOU COULD BE AT RISK
If you are a vegan or vegetarian you can also be at risk for an iron deficiency. Be sure to be get adequate iron intake from non-heme sources. A good tip is to also pair these with a vitamin C containing foods (think tomatoes, citrus fruit, and colorful vegetables) for better absorption. (Try this iron rich recipe)
I am not a fan of foods fortified with iron. They are often synthetic forms of iron and may not be metabolized by the body. If you are looking to get iron I would highly suggest getting it from quality food sources. If you are deficient you may need t0 supplement.
However, you should get a blood test first to determine your nutritional needs.
If you need a supplement and cannot stomach iron pills, a good alternative is collagen protein powder or liver pills. When choosing a collagen powder be sure that it is a grass fed organic variety like Vital Proteins or Dr Ron’s Liver Pills.
Have questions about your iron levels? Comment below or Contact me HERE!