Mention the word Iron and you’re bound to think about red cell development, red meat, lentils and perhaps even Popeye The Sailor Man. But what does Iron do and how does it benefit us? The Meat Club’s resident nutritionist and naturopath, Fiona Pham, tells us a little bit more about this essential mineral.
The body needs iron regularly to keep us healthy, feeling great and aid our everyday performance. It transports oxygen through our blood, boosts our immunity, and helps with energy production, brain function and muscle health.
To get the full potential of iron, we need to consume it on a regular basis. Fortunately, because our bodies absord iron immediately, you can feel the benefits of having good iron levels right away, having consumed the right food groups.
Iron is present in many plant (non-heam) and animal (heam) based products. Plant based sources include: leafy green vegetables, lentils, tofu, and nuts and seeds. Animal-based sources include: seafood, offal, beef and lamb. These animal based sources are typically 2-3 times better absorbed than plant based, making them an easy way of reaching your bodies full potential.
There are certain groups of people that may need to increase their intake of iron:
- Expecting mothers – iron plays an important role in increasing the volume of blood in a pregnant woman, which can increase by up to 50%
- Diets high in calcium (particularly for young children) – excess calcium from dairy products can block the absorption of iron
- Vegans – this is due to a reduced intake of the more easily absorbable animal based (haem) iron
- Women generally – especially those with heavy menses
- Big coffee and tea drinkers – the tannins found in coffee and tea can bind to iron, which are then carried out of the body rather than being absorbed
The best way to find out if you’re iron deficient is to go to your local doctor and request for your levels to be tested. If you’re eating red meat less than 1-2 times a week and suffer from fatigue, poor blood circulation, cold hands and feet, poor muscle function and light coloured gums, you may need to consider consuming more products high in iron.
Fiona Pham is an experienced nutritionist and naturopath who is passionate about natural medicine and helping others achieve optimal health and wellbeing. She has a personal, authentic, and people-oriented approach that sets a new benchmark in nutrition, naturopathy and holistic healthcare. Her understanding of modern lifestyle and its demands is key to her success.