Iron is one of the most important nutrients for our bodies. It helps to produce hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to our cells and tissues. Iron is also an essential part of many other bodily functions, including energy production, immune system maintenance, and brain development.
Unfortunately, some people are deficient in iron due to a lack of it in their diets or because they have certain health conditions that affect its absorption. If you think you might be low on iron, here are some ways to increase your absorption and get more of this nutrient into your diet.
Why Iron Is Important
Iron is an important part of many bodily functions, including energy production, immune system maintenance, and brain development.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the United States. It's estimated that nearly 40% of adults are deficient in iron. In fact, about 10% of American women and children 2-3 years old have iron deficiency anemia, which makes them more susceptible to health complications like heart disease and cancer.
Anemia can also increase your risk for other diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For example, a study conducted by Harvard researchers found that people with low red blood cell levels had a 38% increased risk for developing coronary heart disease later in life. The scientists hypothesized that low red blood cell levels lead to higher inflammation markers, which in turn increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease.
While there are a lot of factors contributing to anemia, diet can be one key contributor. One reason people might not get enough iron is that they don't eat enough animal protein sources or absorb it well from plant-based sources (like beans) where the content varies widely due to natural differences in plant-based compounds called phytates that bind to iron molecules and prevent their absorption into our bodies.
6 Ways To Get More Iron In Your Diet
1) Eat sulfur-containing foods.
Sulfur is a mineral that your body needs to absorb iron. Foods high in sulfur include eggs, broccoli, garlic, and onions.
2) Eat more protein in your diet.
Protein increases the amount of time your body spends digesting food, which allows for better absorption of nutrients like iron.
3) Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Water helps your body flush out toxins and waste products, so it's important to drink lots of it during the day.
4) Choose vegetables over meat or fish at dinner.
Vegetables are high in many nutrient-rich compounds that can help you absorb iron more effectively than meat or fish.
5) Don't eat fried foods.
Fried food contains very little nutritional value because frying destroys most of the vitamins and minerals from the food that would have been absorbed by cooking it in a different way such as boiling or steaming.
6) Supplement your iron intake.
There are no shortages of iron supplements available to you. However, there's been a growing trend of adults and children alike getting their daily iron intake with gummies instead of capsules or pills.
Signs Of Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency is a fairly common problem in the United States, affecting about 1 in 3 people. Women are more likely to be affected than men are, because of menstruation and pregnancy.
Some signs that you might be low on iron include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and even anemia. If you notice these or other iron deficiency symptoms, talk to your doctor about how you can increase your iron intake and make sure you're getting enough from your diet.
There are many things that affect the absorption of iron into our bodies. Here are some of the most important nutrients when it comes to this vital mineral:
- Protein is essential for iron absorption (about 18 percent)
- Vitamin C helps to increase the amount of iron absorbed by our bodies
- Zinc also has a role in promoting iron absorption
- It's also key to consume foods rich in vitamin A and vitamin D
Iron is a vital part of the human body, but the modern diet is often low in iron. This can lead to anemia, fatigue, and even death. Iron deficiency is largely preventable, but getting enough iron in your diet is often difficult. There are some simple ways to obtain iron in your diet, especially if you follow a strict vegetarian or vegan diet.