If you’re always feeling exhausted and rundown, there could be an easy explanation: iron.
This mineral is essential for energy creation - it makes healthy red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to all of your other cells to make energy. So, it’s not surprising that you can feel extremely fatigued if you aren’t getting enough iron, or you’re not absorbing it properly.
But fatigue isn’t the only symptom of low iron. This mineral is important for a number of functions in your body, so a deficiency will often show up on several other symptoms as well.
If you experience any of the following, you may benefit from more iron:
Frequent colds or flu
Paleness on the inside of lower eyelids
Dry and damaged hair or skin
You may also be at risk of developing low iron levels if you fall into one of these groups:
Vegetarians and vegans
Older than 65
Know your number
If you’re worried you might be low on iron, there’s a simple way to tell. Your practitioner can refer you for the most appropriate iron test for your situation. It’s important to know your iron number before eating more iron-rich foods or taking a supplement, because too much iron can also be harmful. Also, some symptoms of low iron may be due to other causes, so a professional assessment is important.
Get into your leafy greens
The first place to start if you have low iron is your diet. I recommend high-quality animal sources of iron like organic lamb or chicken, fish and sardines. Vegetarian iron-rich foods are also important, and include dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), chia seeds, eggs, lentils, and molasses.
Go with your gut
However, even if your diet contains many of these foods, if you experience any digestive discomfort, such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea, then gut function may be affecting your ability to absorb all of your nutrients, including iron. If this is you, your Practitioner can help to heal your digestive system to optimise your health and energy. A happy tummy means a happy you!
Get the most out of your iron
When it comes to energy, iron loves company, so having a few key nutrient friends around helps it to function best. Some of these include:
Vitamin C - helps your body absorb and use iron. It also helps make healthy red blood cells, which transport oxygen to your cells. Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, red capsicums, papaya, broccoli and kale.
B vitamins - B6, B12 and folate are also involved in red blood cell production. The foods high in iron listed above are also high in B vitamins!
Vitamin D - adequate levels of the sunshine vitamin are needed to absorb iron, and not enough iron can lead to low vitamin D levels, so you need to have good levels of both. Your Practitioner will also recommend you check your vitamin D levels if this is required.
If you do need to take iron, it’s important to know there are different ‘forms’ available, some of which cannot be absorbed very well, leading to undesirable symptoms of nausea and constipation. Your Practitioner can help to choose the best one for you.
If suspect you may have an iron deficiency and would like some advice, book a free 15 minute phone chat with a qualified Naturopath. Click here to book now.
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