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Are you getting enough iron from your diet?

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  • 2 min read

Do you often feel tired?




A very interesting article by our favourite doctor, Michael Mosley. He asks the question ‘Do you often feel tired, short of breath or can you feel you heart beating away inside your chest? Have your friends commented that you look unusually pale?’  



If you’ve answered yes, then you may have iron-deficiency anaemia, which as it happens, is the most common nutritional problem in the world, and the UK is no exception, especially for young women.



Your body doesn't produce Iron



Just over 1 in 5 women in the UK, aged between 19 and 34 were deficient in iron according to a 2011 government report.



Iron is one of those essential minerals - your body doesn’t produce it, you have to get it from your diet. And while it may be unpalatable for many of us, the best source of iron is red meat.



This poses a problem for those of us who are either vegan or vegetarian, or those who are reducing the amount of red meat they're eating.



So, what are the alternatives?




There are foods such as bread and cereals that are fortified with iron, as well as green vegetables - think Popeye and his spinach, which are naturally rich in iron. 



However, there’s a catch



Not all iron in food is a form that your body an absorb, what’s more, how you cook your food and what you drink with it, can drastically alter how much iron you absorb.



Orange juice not coffee, with breakfast




The vitamin C in organic juice helps your body absorb iron, and you’ll get more iron from a fortified breakfast cereal drinking orange juice, than by not.



On the flip side, say good bye to your breakfast coffee, as you’ll get significantly less iron from your breakfast if you’re drinking a coffee with it.



That’s because of chemicals called polyphenols in coffee. They bind to iron making them less soluble and harder for your body to absorb.



Vegetables with iron and vitamin C




Cabbage (especially red), kale, broccoli and cauliflower are rich in both iron and vitamin C. However, when they’re either steamed or boiled they loose their vitamin C in the water, and this reduces the amount of iron you can absorb.



And if you can’t face eating them raw… then cook in a microwave, which doesn’t use heat or water to cook, and you’ll not lose any vitamin C.



Alternatively, many of the organic green superfoods are very high in iron - spirulina and chlorella in particular, but also kale, broccoli, and wheatgrass too.



And for vitamin C, acerola and camu camu have the highest amounts of vitamin C of any food in the world, and baobab power is also a very good source.