Iron – what’s it all about?

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There is so much information out there about what we should eat, and what we shouldn’t, that at times it can feel pretty overwhelming and you just want to head out for a KFC.

Don’t!

A good rule of thumb is to eat a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables with good lean protein and whole grains. Drinking plenty of water, limiting processed foods and sugar as well as alcohol and getting some exercise all help to keep you in optimum health.

One thing we often hear about is not getting enough iron, which isn’t great for you. We iron so that our bodies can make haemoglobin, the blood protein that helps transport oxygen around our bodies.

An iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, a condition that leaves us feeling weak and tired, short of breath and complexions become paler. Not something you want to be dealing with.

We also need iron to regulate our immune systems, if we don’t have enough we are more likely to pick up colds and bugs and it will take longer to recover.

The suggested amount of iron you need is:
14.8mg a day for women (19-50 years)
8.7mg a day for women (50-64 years)
8.7mg a day for men (19-64 years)

Ideally, you should be able to get all the iron you need from your daily diet and excellent sources include:

  • red meat including liver, beef and lamb
  • dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach, watercress and curly kale
  • clams, mussels and oysters are great sources
  • beans and pulses
  • nuts
  • dried fruit (dried apricots and figs are great options)
  • whole grains – such as brown rice
  • fortified breakfast cereals

One thing to be aware of is that Vitamin C helps your body to absorb iron. This means when Vitamin C rich foods are combined with foods rich in iron, absorption of the iron is substantially increased. We all know oranges are the ‘go to’ source for Vitamin C, but also consider strawberries, broccoli, red peppers, kale, grapefruit and Brussel sprouts – maybe not all at once!

It is also worth noting that dairy products like yogurt, cheese, milk and eggs can interfere with iron absorption, so once again it is just really important to make sure you try to eat a varied, balanced diet that covers all food groups.

One way to get your day off to a good start, is with a bowl of homemade, iron packed muesli that is also full of fibre.

For this you will need three cups of oats and a cup of mixed nuts ( including macadamia nuts if possible) as well as
½ a cup of sesame seeds, ½ a cup of sunflower seeds, ½ a cup of raisins and ½ a cup of dried apricots. Add them all into an airtight container and enjoy a bowl for breakfast with nut milk and a glass of orange juice.

If you think you might be iron deficient or anaemic, speak to your GP for more advice and a diagnosis and if a supplement is suggested, stick to the prescribed does and hopefully you will see a change in your spirits and energy levels.

Team Pure Beauty

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