The importance of Iron

The importance of Iron

Iron helps transport oxygen around the body, is requiredfor haemoglobin and formation of red blood cells, and is important for ahealthy immune system. Too little iron means less oxygen is delivered to thebody’s cells, which results in feeling tired and fatigued.

How much do you need? 18mg a day, dropping to 8mg after you’veturned 51 years old.

What can you eat to obtain enough Iron? 100g of lean steak + 1 bowl of fortified cereal+ 2 slices of wholemeal bread + 1 cup of cooked spinach + ½ cup of cookedlentils + 1 cup of wholemeal pasta = 18mg of iron.

Consider a supplement if you have particularly heavyperiods, regularly feel tired despite getting plenty of sleep, and if you’vebeen a vegetarian for some years.

Need to know facts:

  • There are two types of dietary iron – haem ironfound in red meat, chicken and pork, and non-haem iron found in foods likegreen leafy vegetables, wholemeal pasta and eggs. Haem iron is more easilyabsorbed – spinach and red meat contain similar levels, but we absorb 20 percent of the steak’s iron and just five per cent from the spinach.
  • Vitamin C increases iron absorption,particularly from non-haem sources. So having orange juice with aniron-fortified cereal is a good option.
  • Eat non-haem and haem iron-rich foods together –Danish researchers say adding meat to a meal increases how much iron isabsorbed from the vegies.
  • Don’t self-diagnose iron deficiency. Naturopath,herbalist and nutritionist from Sydney’s Nature Care College MichelleAvedissian explains: “Taking too much iron can be harmful, so make sure youhave a blood test to measure your levels before you get started withsupplementing.”
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