Learning about iron, you find that we are quite literally made of stardust – when the sun formed in an explosion, heavy metals and gases flew out around it, one of which was iron, and the heavier materials collected closer to the sun because they couldn’t travel as far. This explains why most of the inner and outer core of earth is made of iron, and iron is its most common element in terms of mass.
Without further ado, here are the key facts on this essential element:
- Iron is most available to the body when it is linked (or ‘chelated’ to use the official term) with amino acids – as can be found in iron glycine supplements.
- Between adolescence and menopause, women need more iron than men do. The recommendation for women is 14.8 mg whereas for men it’s just 8.7 mg.
- If you work out a lot, if you’re pregnant our if you’ve had certain types of surgery, you might need extra iron – check with you’re doctor if you think this is you.
- There is also the consensus that if you are veggie or vegan you should take an iron supplement because the type of iron found in plants is supposed to be less absorbable than the iron found in meat.
- Iron deficiency is also known as anaemia, of which some of the symptoms are:
a. Feeling short of breath, fast heartbeat, cold hands and feet, craving odd materials such as dirt or clay, brittle nails, losing hair, sore tongue, fatigued
b. Make sure to see a doctor if you think this is you and before you start gobbling down supplements!
- You can also have too much iron in your blood, which can be bad for the health, so don’t take more than the recommended daily allowance, and again check with your doctor if you suspect you have too much (symptoms such as chronic fatigue, joint pain and skin colour changes).
- Most people absorb only around 10% of the iron they eat in food. When your iron stores are full you absorb less, and when your iron stores are low, you absorb more.
- Vitamin C helps to increase absorption, so that’s why it’s good to combine your iron rich foods with vitamin C rich ones. Such as drinking a glass of orange with your beans on toast.
- Tea and coffee can reduce iron absorption, so avoid drinking this at mealtimes.
- Iron is actually found in differing quantities in most types of food.
But some particularly good sources of iron can be found below:
Inspiration for meals with iron and vitamin C!