Wellness Wednesday #1: Iron Enhancement

Hello All,

I hope everyone is having a great start to their day (hump day!). I am jumping on the bandwagon and starting Wellness Wednesdays so each week I will post something health related. To start off the first one I will be talking about ways to enhance iron absorption within your diet.

Many girls and women suffer from iron deficiency at some point in their lives either from heavy menstruation or from lack of meats and iron rich foods in their diets, as well as some health conditions that may inhibit iron absorption. A diet that is high is calcium may also inhibit absorption of iron.

I myself have struggled with iron deficiency because I am not a huge meat eater but I love cheese which counter acts the absorption. I had a period of time during my senior year when I was sick and couldn’t really eat all that much and also again my junior year in college. My senior year I was still able to maintain my iron but while I was in college my iron supply went very low and I felt the horrible effects of it. I was tired all the time, no energy, very anxious, short of breath just walking a couple of steps, couldn’t concentrate and the left side of my body hurt. I went to the doctor and got blood work done and it was determined that my iron was very low and they told me to start taking iron supplements to raise it. Ever since then I have been very cautious of my body and try my best to eat well balanced meals.

Some tips that I would like to share for enhancing your iron absorption include:

  • Eating lean meats
    • Beef is the best source of iron
    • Dark meat in chicken and turkey are the best sources rather than the white meat but white meat still offers a good source of iron
  • Include vitamin C with each meal
    • It helps aid in the absorption of iron
    • Sources include:
      • Fruits
      • Vegetables
      • Smoothies
      • Fruit juices
  • Go outside and sun yourself
    • Vitamin D is one thing that is hard to get through food but is also important in the absorption of iron so getting it from the sun really helps. Vitamin D from the sunlight also helps with seasonal depression during the winter time.
  • Eating well balanced meals:
    • Eat your colors
    • If you are a vegetarian, try to incorporate non-heme iron sources such as:
      • Soybeans
      • Chickpeas
      • Beans (white, lima, red kidney, navy)
      • Black eyed peas
      • Seeds (pumpkin, hemp, sesame and flax seeds)
      • Nuts (cashews and pine nuts)
      • Leafy greens
      • Whole grains
      • Dark chocolate
      • Iron fortified breakfast cereals are also a great way to add in iron
  • Using cast iron pans

If you suspect that your iron is low, please go to the doctor and get blood work so that they can confirm/deny that is an iron issue. I also recommend that you don’t take iron supplements without a doctors supervision and approval because too much iron is toxic and can harm your body in high doses, and can even lead to an iron overdose.

Even now I still struggle with keeping my iron to a decent level but I have the knowledge and I know exactly what to do when I need a boost and I also know my symptoms. This is one thing that I am adamant about and love talking about because food really has such a huge impact on your health.

Have any of you struggled with iron deficiency? What were your symptoms? I would love to hear all about it!

Remember, be happy and smile!

-Sydney

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