Iron is an essential mineral needed by the body. Its primary function is to transport oxygen in the haemoglobin of red blood cells so the cells can produce energy. It also helps to remove carbon dioxide.
How much iron do you need and where do we get it?
Infants and toddlers need more iron than adults because their bodies are still growing. Women need more iron than men due to menstruation. Women require about 18mg/day while men need just 8mg/day. Iron is found in foods like: Shellfish, Liver, Red Meat, Spinach, Kale and Fortified Cereals. Haem Iron is the iron we get from animal sources and is most easily absorbed in the body. Non haem iron comes from plant sources and is not as easily absorbed so may require supplementation in vegetarians and vegans. Vitamin C is also essential for Iron absorption. It’s found in many fruits like Blackcurrants, strawberries, kiwis and oranges. Adding orange juice or fruit to an iron rich meal can help absorption.
How do I know if I’m deficient in Iron?
Common symptoms of Iron deficiency anaemia include: Fatigue, Paleness, Difficulty exercising, or have a fast heartbeat. It is important to never self diagnose. Too much iron is toxic and should not be taken unless recommended by a medical professional.
Female athletes are at risk of iron deficiency anaemia due to menstruation and high exercise output. Make sure if you are showing any of the symptoms to get it checked out by a doctor and never self diagnose.