If you don’t get enough of this nutrient, you may experience chronic fatigue, weakness, feelings of lightheadedness, and even dizziness. Worse yet, you may develop poor resistance to infection. Do you tend to look pale? If so, you may be deficient in this important nutrient that keeps your red blood cells healthy.
So what nutrient is it? Yes, we are talking about iron!
Global Iron Deficiencies
As one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, iron deficiency anemia affects as much as 25% of the global population. While a well-rounded diet might provide enough daily iron for many people, what happens if you don’t get enough iron?
The Oxygen Mineral: What does iron do for you?
Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a key component of your red blood cells. Sufficient amounts of hemoglobin are critical because they enable your blood to carry oxygen throughout your body to supply all your organs and bodily tissues with oxygen. Without enough iron in your blood, your oxygen levels will plummet. Then you may find you begin to experience many problems.
How do I know if I am deficient in iron?
A blood test will typically identify whether or not you have low iron levels. Also, common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of energy and tiredness
- Decreased ability to fight off infections
- Feeling cold
- Feeling irritable
- Problems with concentration and memory
If you experience all or some of these common symptoms above, it might be time for you to think about upgrading your iron status.
How is Your Iron IQ?
Did you know. . .
- Iron is important for brain development & growth in children.
- Iron helps your body’s resistance against infections.
- Iron is needed to help manufacture certain hormones.
- Iron is a core part of myoglobin, a muscle protein that stores oxygen in muscle tissue.
- If you take too much iron, your body will be attracted to credit cards. (JUST KIDDING!)
Alert: Chemically created iron may have potential side effects
Although some foods may provide a natural source of iron, such as lentils, nuts, or raisins, you may need an iron supplement with higher levels of iron to help reverse or treat low iron blood levels. However, be aware that prescription, chemically made iron products may cause numerous issues in some people.
Prescription iron products, such as ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, and ferrous sulfate, have common side effects that include:
- Constipation (or diarrhea)
- Black stools
- Other side effects (not listed here)
Preferred Natural Sources of Iron
Natural sources of iron are found in food in basically two forms: heme iron and non-heme iron.
Heme iron is found only in animal sources, such as in muscle tissue. Examples of food with heme iron are meat, poultry, and seafood. About 40% of the iron contained in animal food is heme iron while the remaining 60% is non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is partially found in animal foods, but also in plant foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, and leafy greens.
Your Best Choice
To get a concentrated form of easily digested iron, opt for a natural-source, non-heme, plant-based iron supplement. Not only can it help you maintain healthy iron blood levels and is easily digestible, it won’t give you the unwanted but common side effects from chemically made iron (such as nagging constipation or g.i. symptoms). Plant-based iron is clearly a superior choice for getting the quality iron that you need.
Always think of your body as a precious treasure… because it is! Opt for the best nutrients available to feed your body – so you can look forward to a long, healthy, and happy life.
Jenny Perez is an herbal educator, researcher, and writer who has been immersed in the field of nutrition and botanical medicine for more than 20 years. Jenny has created curriculum, content, and educational materials for Quantum Nutrition Labs, Premier Research Labs, the American Botanical Council, and Bastyr University’s Botanical Medicine Department where she was Adjunct Faculty, Herb Garden Manager, and Director of the Holistic Landscape Design certificate program.