Iron is an indispensable element in the proper functioning of our body. A lack can cause fatigue, headaches… Learn how to avoid iron deficiency with advice from naturopaths.
What is Iron?
Iron is an essential trace element, it allows the transport of oxygen in the blood. So it is indispensable. Unfortunately many people are missing, especially women who have abundant rules, vegetarian and vegan people, those with a disease that makes blood lose (like Crohn’s disease), pregnant women …. If the deficiency has gradually settled, one may not realize it. It is therefore important, if one belongs to a category at risk, to check its iron level, and to know how to counter this lack.
Recognize iron deficiency
Iron deficiency is felt through different symptoms:
Shortness of breath in the very fast effort
Pulse faster than usual
Cold hands and feet
Priority to remember: fatigue and rapid shortness of breath. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor who will prescribe a blood sample.
The iron-rich diet
Before giving a list of iron-rich foods, it is important to distinguish the heme iron from the non-heme iron. The heme iron is derived from the animals, the non-heme of the plant and the eggs. What is the difference? Heme iron is better assimilated by our body, so it has a strong “bio-availability” while the non-heme iron is much less.
Heme iron is considered to be 25% when the non-heme is only 5%. This is the reason why vegetarians and vegans are among the people “at risk ” of iron deficiency. Although some plants, such as lentils, are very rich in iron, the body will assimilate very little.
Foods Rich in iron heme:
The black pudding
Offal (veal liver, kidneys…)
Some crustaceans (oysters, shrimps, clams, mussels, octopuses, shells)
Fatty fish (sardines, mackerel, tuna, salmon)
Non-heme iron-rich foods:
Legumes (soy, lentils, white beans, chickpeas)
oilseeds (almonds, nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios)
Spinach, broccoli, chard
Oats and Barley
Tips for good assimilation of iron
Iron needs other nutrients to be well assimilated, especially vitamin C. So make plenty of vitamin C in your diet (see the richest foods in vitamin C).
Copper is important too, it helps in the absorption of iron. Make sure your food is sufficient.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, consider consuming iron-rich foods every day, especially legumes and oilseeds.
On the other hand some nutrients block the absorption of iron, this is the case of tea (black and green) and coffee. So it’s best to consume them at least two hours before or after your iron-rich meal. If you usually drink a hot drink at the end of the meal, opt for a herbal tea.
Food supplements against the lack of iron
Sometimes adding iron-rich foods is not enough to correct anemia, either because iron is poorly assimilated (due to disease, or by constitution), or because the deficiency is too large. It will therefore be necessary to supplement (while continuing to follow the food councils).
There are a large number of food supplements for iron. For example, you can turn to Spirulina. Always check the dosage indicated for the product you are buying. Prefer tablets of at least 500 mg or take Spirulina in ampoules.