Iron deficiency

There are three nutritional deficiencies that I think we should be particularly aware of.  This week I'm going to start off with iron, which is essential for keeping up your energy.

Iron is so important that without it all life would cease to exist.” (http://www.irondisorders.org/our-need-for-iron/)  According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world, affecting over 30% of the world’s population, in both underdeveloped and industrialized countries.  (http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/ida/en/)

Iron is needed for your body to produce hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells) which allows oxygen to be transported throughout the body, and also removes carbon dioxide. Without enough oxygen in your tissues, you may feel tired, irritable, and skin appears pale. Immune function and mental performance can also be compromised.

There are two types of dietary iron. Heme iron comes from animal products that originally contained hemoglobin:
•    Red meat
•    Pork
•    Poultry
•    Seafood

Non-heme iron is plant-based, and does not tend to absorb into the body as easily as from heme sources.  As a result, greater quantities of these foods need to be consumed relative to sources of heme iron.
•    Beans, chick peas, split peas, peas
•    Dark leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, asparagus, broccoli, beet greens)
•    Dried fruit (especially dates, raisins, apricots)
•    Pumpkin, sesame, & squash seeds
•    Nuts (in particular almonds & cashews)
•    Lentils
•    Blackstrap molasses

Your body is better able to absorb iron when combined with foods containing vitamin C:
•    Citrus
•    Broccoli, leafy greens, peppers
•    Melons
•    Strawberries, kiwi
•    Tomatoes

Coffee, tea, chocolate, dairy, eggs, and calcium all inhibit the absorption of iron.

If your serum ferritin level is particularly low, you may need to take a supplement.  Iron in pill format can be hard to digest; the best source I have found is Floradix Formula (liquid iron and vitamins formula), manufactured in Germany by Salus.