Sophie's World Blog

What we need to know about Iron?

What we need to know about Iron?

I have many friends coming back from the blood test with Iron deficiency. They look perfect but still the doctor says, you need to take iron supplement, if not you can face serious problem. And then they get panicked. One of my girlfriend is chronically Iron deficient and most of the time me as well. But what the blood test can examine, especially if it is not done on a regular consecutive basis, it is just a simple test, giving the at the moment figures. We can recognise iron deficiency. If we listen to our own body. White, pale skin, permanent fatigue could be one of the symptoms.

How much iron we need?

Our body has 2-4 g iron, which interferes in the chemical reactions. And we need to refill this amount every day with 10-15 mg. I emphasise everybody to take 2-4 g salt in his hand an than imagine how much 200 times less! Also it is important to know that better not to take more than 45 mg iron per day on average base.

What food to eat?

To get this amount of iron we can strictly do it with the right diet. Also we do not need to eat every day food with iron, one day we can take the amount of 40mg and the other day less.

“There are two forms of irons heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to cells. Heme iron is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish, and poultry. Iron in plant foods such as lentils and beans is arranged in a chemical structure called nonheme iron. This is the form of iron added to iron-enriched and iron-fortified foods. Heme iron is absorbed better than nonheme iron, but most dietary iron is nonheme iron.”

What helps to absorb iron?

Now that we know what contains iron. We also need to know that the body Iron absorption refers to the amount of dietary iron that the body obtains and uses from food. Healthy adults absorb about 10% to 15% of dietary iron, but individual absorption is influenced by several factors. Storage levels of iron have the greatest influence on iron absorption. Iron absorption increases when body stores are low. When iron stores are high, absorption decreases to help protect against toxic effects of iron overload Iron absorption is also influenced by the type of dietary iron consumed. Absorption of heme iron from meat proteins is efficient, 15% to 35%. In contrast, 2% to 20% of nonheme iron in plant foods such as rice, maize, black beans, soybeans and wheat is absorbed

Meat proteins and vitamin C will improve the absorption of nonheme iron. Tannins (found in tea), calcium, polyphenols, and phytates (found in legumes and whole grains) can decrease absorption of nonheme iron.

Summarizing the absorption, heme iron is better and more efficient to eat and preferably accompanied with vitamin C. This concludes that people who dislike red meat, liver or are vegetarian has to consider iron supplement.

Also when you take food with iron, understand, if you eat 250g of chicken liver, it does mean about 27mg of iron taken, from which if your body absorbs it right you will gain your daily need of 10mg. But not the same happens with the your morning cereal, where only 2-20% absorbs. Also absorption varies by individuals and by need of the body. So if you do not feel the symptoms of iron deficiency you do not need to eat liver every day.

What is iron for in the body?

Iron, main job is to be part of the haemoglobin the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues. When we miss iron we can feel fatigue, and be less efficient.

Is too much iron dangerous?

Yes it can have toxic effect and cause death. “There is considerable potential for iron toxicity because very little iron is excreted from the body. Thus, iron can accumulate in body tissues and organs when normal storage sites are full. For example, people with hemachromatosis are at risk of developing iron toxicity because of their high iron stores. In children, death has occurred from ingesting 200 mg of iron. It is important to keep iron supplements tightly capped and away from children’s reach.

Does pregnancy increase the need for iron?

“Nutrient requirements increase during pregnancy to support fatal growth and maternal health. Iron requirements of pregnant women are approximately double that of non-pregnant women because of increased blood volume during pregnancy.”

About iron supplements

Iron supplementation is indicated when diet alone cannot restore deficient iron levels to normal within an acceptable timeframe. When you chose iron supplement be sure that it is absorbing slowly.

Best iron based dishes:

I love things like red meat, liver, chickpeas, spinach, broccoli or lentils, so I think it is important to put them into our weekly diet. One of my Monday dish is to start the week with lots of energy is: Tasty chicken liver with hummus and mint cucumber salad

Check the recipes here:



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