What is Iron?
Iron is broken into two different forms hemoglobin (found in blood) and myoglobin (holds oxygen-holding protein of the muscle cells). Hemoglobin is used to carry oxygen throughout the body from the lungs to different tissues. Myoglobin is found in the muscle tissue and is a protein that binds iron and oxygen together.
Iron Deficiency vs. Iron Anemia
Iron deficiency and iron anemia are different. An iron anemia is when red blood cells shrink and become colorless. While iron deficiency is the condition of having depleted iron stores.
Why do we need Iron?
When iron is deprived in the body there is an insufficient amount of new red blood cells that can be made and the body becomes anemic. The lack of red blood cells cause less oxygen to be supplied to the body’s tissues and can result in low energy.
Many foods can contribute to enhancing iron absorption such as the MFP factor also known as the meat, fish and poultry factor. This factor promotes absorption of none heme iron from other foods that are eaten in the same meal. Vitamin C can also help enhance nonheme iron absorption from foods eaten in the same meal.
Iron Deficiency Symptoms
Iron deficiency is linked to curious behavior such as an eating disorder called pica. Pica is an appetite for ice, clay, paste and other nonfood substances.
People who experience an iron deficiency experience low energy, impaired metabolism and a reduction in physical activity. It has also been found that work productivity and voluntary activities decline.
- Extreme Fatigue
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Frequent infections
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails
- Fast heartbeat
- Unusal cravings for non-nutritive substances
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency
- Uncomfortable tingling or crawling feelings in your legs
Foods high in Iron:
- Red meat
- Legumes: lentils, soy, beans
- Grains: fortified cereals, quinoa, oatmeal
- Vegetables: spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens
Identifying the signs could prevent you from suffering from anemia.