leave you feeling weak, grumpy, and unable to focus.
Any guesses? Yup...Iron.
I have dealt with low iron most of my life, and can always tell when my levels are taking a nose dive. Fatigue and irritability are the first two warning signs - especially if I have been working out a lot. I don't eat red or organ meats of any kind, and have a tough time raising my levels without supplementation. When I supplement, I use a natural health product called Floradix, which can be found at any health food store (no I don't have any ties to them, it is just just happens to be my favorite product that lacks the side effects of the nasty little tummy ache inducing, constipating pills you may be prescribed by your GP).
It is important to note that many vitamins and minerals work synergistically; and in this case in addition to iron, the body also needs vitamin B12 & folic acid to produce more red blood cells. If there is a lack of more than one of these nutrients, boosting iron intake alone is not enough. If you eat leafy greens your folic acid levels are likely a-ok, but B12 is another common nutrient deficiency so you want to ensure you are getting enough of it. Liver, shellfish & eggs are the best B12 sources, leaving vegetarians at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Nutritional yeast is a helpful way to boost B12 in the diet, but often supplementation is required. Interestingly, many of the symptoms of low iron are the same as those who have low B12.
More symptoms of iron deficiency include:
Are you getting enough iron?
To fight fatigue that's caused by an iron deficiency, turn to iron-rich foods. By changing your diet, you could see significant changes in your energy level within as little as one week. Women need about 18mg per day until menopause (more when pregnant), and men need 8 mg.
There are 2 types of iron in the diet:
Heme iron and non heme iron.
Heme iron is found in meat based protein found in animal muscles and blood, absorbing 2-3 times faster than non-heme iron. Lean ground beef, chicken livers, clams, and oysters are potent sources of iron in this category.
Non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods. Lentils, beans, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, blackstrap molasses, pumpkin seeds, broccoli, dried fruits, such as apricots, and fortified cereals are among the best sources.
Other ways to boost your iron intake:
1. Pair Vitamin C Rich Foods With Iron Rich Veggies
Vitamin C helps boost absorption of iron. Vitamin C rich foods include foods like bell peppers, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes
2. Don’t Consume Coffee, Tea, or Dairy within 3 Hours of an Iron-Rich Meal
The tannins found in tea and coffee and the caseins found in milk and certain forms of calcium interfere with iron absorption.
3. Cook In in a Cast Iron Skillet
Acidic foods with high moisture content, such as tomato sauce, chill, and stew absorbs the most iron from iron cookware.
If you have been following my blog, you probably have picked up on my love of everything smoothie. It was born out of necessity and was the one way I could ensure my body got the nutrients it needed because I am incapable of chewing on that many veggies in one day. In the infographic below, you will find a list of iron rich foods that are perfect additions to smoothies and will boost your iron levels.
Don't overlook the kiddlettes
While menstruating females are at the highest risk for iron deficiency in general, young children can also be at risk. Toddlers in particular may run into problems if they over consume cow's milk (ie 24+ ounces a day) and don't eat enough iron-rich foods, like red meat and green leafy vegetables -- two things that are generally not a favorite on the plate of little ones. Milk makes it harder for the body to absorb iron and can contribute to iron-deficiency.
Children at this age are growing fast, and require more iron. A child with iron deficiency may have learning and behavioral problems, and or suffer from repeat infections, & lethargy so make sure to ensure their levels are adequate, and rule deficiency out as a catalyst. Fortified cereals provide iron and kids tend to be happy to eat them, but try to choose GMO free, low sugar, and organic whenever possible. Smoothies are a sneaky way to get iron rich foods into a child's diet without them even noticing so start blending! :)
are formed by conscious choices that soon become unconscious ways of life. The good news is you have full control over this!
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© Lynnel Bjorndal ~ Healthy Holistic Habits