Dr. Andrew Arnold says, ‘Iron requirements for women are around 80 percent higher than for men because of menstruation and child-bearing.’
Iron is essential for humans. It is a vital component of hundreds of proteins and enzymes found within the body. Iron is needed for growth and reproduction, as well as healing and immune function. It plays a vital role in the metabolism of almost all living organisms.
Those at most risks for developing iron deficiency are:
- pregnant women
- women with heavy menstrual loss
- frequent dieters
- those with low gastric acid levels such as occurs after stomach surgery and with aging
Iron deficiency Vs anemia
Iron stored in the body in places other than the red blood cells. These include the liver, bone marrow, spleen, muscles and in the serum. A test for anemia will determine whether there is a depletion of iron stored in the red blood cells (hemoglobin level) but not whether iron stores elsewhere in the body are at sufficient levels. It is now known that the symptoms of iron deficiency can exist before red blood cells become depleted of iron and that a considerable number of people are iron deficiency even though their hemoglobin is normal. At Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre we offer comprehensive testing and diagnostic tools to asses your nutritional status and any deficiencies that may be causing your symptoms or stopping you feeling the best you can.
You may like to discuss any of the following symptoms in relation to an iron deficiency such as;
- poor stamina
- shortness of breath on the excretion
- unreasonable limb fatigue
Other symptoms may include that are related to an iron deficiency
- a red sore tongue and cracks in the corner of the mouth
- concave nails
- reduced resistance to infection- particularly children
- also in children, a failure to thrive, slow learning and poor appetite
Improving Iron absorption
- Eat vitamin C- rich foods, particularly when consuming foods rich in iron
- add acidic dressings, such as lemon juice and vinegar, to rich-rich foods. There is a common southern Mediterranean practice, where there is a high incidence of inherited anemia and the traditional diet contains little red meat.
- eat bitter vegetables or fruit before or after the meal to increase gastric acid which will, in turn, improve the absorption of minerals. e.g grapefruit, Swedish bitters and bitter green vegetables can all be used. Bitter vegetables are best because they usually contain iron as well.
- avoid tea (especially black tea) or coffee until the iron deficiency improves. The tannin in tea binds with the iron, making it difficult to absorb. Coffee also reduces absorption, especially if taken with a meal.
Sources of Iron
There are multiple sources of iron in the human diet, such as egg yolk, meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, along with mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, soybeans, kidney beans, and lentils. However, the amount of iron that is actually absorbed from these foods and used by the body is affected by two factors; the iron status of the individual and the form of the iron.
Iron found in red meat, poultry and fish (known as “ heme” iron) is more efficiently absorbed by the body, compared to the type of iron found in plants sources and dairy products (“ nonheme” iron). The ability of the body to absorb nonheme iron is affected significantly by certain enhancers (such as vitamin C and heme iron i.e. meat, fish and poultry) and inhibitors (such as phytic acid found in grains, legumes and rice, polyphenols found in certain fruits, vegetables, spices, tea, coffee and wine and soy protein found in tofu) when eaten at the same meal.
The Naturopaths at Cranbourne family chiropractic and Wellness Centre can tailor a suitable diet plan so you meet all your nutritional needs.
About the author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor at Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr.