Most of us know that when it comes to iron, meats are a good source. But did you know that many plant foods are iron-rich too? Research shows that vegetarians, vegans, and people who eat more plants than meat actually have as much, or more, iron in their diets as meat eaters.
Still, a lack of iron causes more global health concerns than any other nutrient deficiency. Conversely, too much iron is also to blame for a host of sicknesses. It is very important to have the proper dietary balance.
Why is iron good for you?
Iron provides two very significant health benefits:
Iron Enhances Oxygen Transport
Our bodies need a consistent oxygen supply to remain functional and thriving. Oxygen is delivered by red blood cells. These cells contain oxygen-transporting proteins called hemoglobin, which contain iron. If dietary iron intake is low, and the iron stored in the blood is reduced, anemia may result. It becomes difficult for the body to tolerate exertion.
- Supports Energy Production
Iron fosters appropriate metabolism in the body. Using iron, cells burn calories off and produce energy. When iron decreases, energy production falters and the body feels fatigued.
Muscle fatigue, exhaustion, excessive menstruation, and poor concentration are early indicators of low iron stores in the body.
What is at risk for iron deficiency?
Iron deficiency is fairly common throughout the world, affecting nearly 10 percent of the American female population. Women and very young children are most likely to be iron deficient.
How can you get the necessary iron?
- Many plants, like spinach and lentils, provide well over the daily recommended amount of iron.
- Plants, like legumes and leafy green vegetables, are some of the best choices for iron. A variety of whole grains are iron-rich too.
- Lamb, sardines, and grass-fed beef are quality meat sources of iron.
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