Iron Deficiency 101

Freshman year I remember my roommate drinking iron supplements that looked like squeezable go gurts…I was thinking uhmm WHAT is this girl doing? (You learn a lot about living with people freshman year of college). Turns out she was iron deficient and drank these “iron go gurts” every day. A few years later  I find out I have low iron levels too! Where’s my go gurt pouch roomie?

Iron

What does iron do?

Iron helps circulate oxygen throughout the body. It is used to make hemoglobin, which is a part of your red blood cells. When you are iron deficient, your body makes less and smaller red blood cells, and thus you have less oxygen. Morphed red blood cells as a result of iron deficiency is indicative of anemia.

Deficiency symptoms:

  • weakness, tired, dizzy
  • pale
  • short of breath
  • trouble concentrating
  • headaches
  • craving/chewing on ice

Foods with Iron:

Efficiently absorbed (Heme Iron):

  • clams, oysters, mussels, sardines
  • liver
  • turkey, beef, lamb

 

Less efficiently absorbed (Non-Heme Iron):

  • fortified cereal
  • pumpkin seeds
  • legumes (tofu, beans, lentils)

 

Iron Absorption Enhancers:

The body can absorb up to 3 times more iron by pairing iron rich foods with foods rich in:

  • vitamin c (oranges, lemons, tomatoes, strawberries)
  • citric acid (found in juices)
  • salmon

**Heme iron is efficiently absorbed and does not need to be paired with enhancers as much as non-heme iron)

Iron Absorption Inhibitors:

  • coffee and tea
  • calcium (milk, cheese, broccoli, tofu)

Don’t worry about timing too much or you’ll go crazy! All food is nutritious and as long as you are eating a well balanced diet, you are bound to absorb proper nutrients.

PS. I found the iron go gurts!

 

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