He iron it is a mineral that actively participates in the proper functioning of the body. Among other functions, it is present in the synthesis of DNA or in the formation of collagen. It also boosts defenses to fight disease and produces hormones and connective tissue.
However, iron’s main job is to transport and store oxygen.
On the other hand, it also participates in the cellular respiration process by producing:
- Hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body
- Myoglobin, another similar protein but with the power to carry oxygen to the muscles.
Depending on the type of food in which it is concentrated, there are two types of iron:
- On one side, the enemy. It’s easy to absorb. It is found in animal products.
- And on the other hand, the nonemic It is absorbed in a very low amount, about 3 to 8%. This is found in plant type foods.
How Much Iron Should You Consume?
The body needs, according to this relationship from the National Institutes of Health (USA) amount of iron depending on each person’s life stage, gender or dietMoreover.
The following list presents some of the most representative examples:
- Children up to 6 months of age – 0.27 mg
- Children from 4 to 8 years – 10 mg
- Adult men aged 19 to 50 – 8 mg
- Adult women from 19 to 50 years old – 18 mg
- Adolescents and pregnant women – 27 mg
- Breastfeeding women – 9 mg
An interesting fact is that adult and pregnant women need more consumption than men, thanks to its organic processes.
On the other hand, it is also advisable for people who engage in strenuous sports to increase their iron intake, as they are more prone to deficiencies.
While the exact reason is unknown, it is believed that it may be due to the need to increase red blood cell production to carry oxygen and answer the demand that exercise requires.
In these cases, it’s best to talk to your doctor to determine if you have iron deficiency and what dose is the most recommended.
As mentioned above, iron It is a mineral that occurs naturally in foods.of both animal and vegetable origin.
Here is a list of those that have the most in their composition:
- Poultry meat (especially dark red), eggs.
- Lean red meats, such as beef.
- Clams and other shellfish.
- Dried fruit: prunes, raisins, apricots.
- Cereals and breads with integrated iron.
- Legumes: soybeans, lentils, peas, dried beans, broad beans, red beans.
- Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, kale, kale, asparagus, dandelion greens.
- Whole grains: wheat, oats, brown rice.
Importantly, the absorption of iron contained in vegetables, fruits, cereals and dietary supplements is lower than that of meat.
Despite this, the absorption of the mineral in vegetables can be tripled if lean meats are mixed with dark leafy vegetables or legumes at meals.
Another way to help the body improve iron absorption is to consume foods with a higher level of vitamin C, according to this study made by the “Ramón López Peña” Teaching Polyclinic of Cuba.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid facilitates the absorption of iron in the gastrointestinal tract and allows for greater mobilization of the resources stored in the body.
Should I consume more iron?
For those who don’t have a direct relationship with medicine or nutrition, recognizing the symptoms derived from low levels of iron in the body it can be a difficult task.
However, there are some signs and circumstances that make it possible to identify certain warning signs.
According to this study carried out by the University of Chile, the low iron levels can lead to anemia. Condition in which the body does not produce sufficient amounts of hemoglobin in the blood.
Symptoms of anemia or low blood hemoglobin levels
- Shortness of breath during exercise
- Muscle fatigue
- low level of performance
- cold hands and feet
- Neurological disorders: dizziness, headache, vertigo
- Renal changes. Birth of edema or swelling in the legs
- Increased heart rate
Furthermore, people on a vegetarian diet should consume double the recommended daily amount of this mineral, since the absorption in vegetables is much lower than when meat is consumed.
Risks due to excess iron
consumption of foods with iron are good as long as they are made with balanceunder medical supervision. Otherwise, symptoms such as:
- gastric disorders
In some cases it might even be failures in the functioning of some organs or even accumulation of iron due to hemochromatosisaccording to this study made by the Central University Hospital of Asturias (Spain).
Similarly, it is believed that excessive consumption could increase the likelihood of suffering from diseases such as breast cancer, irregular heartbeat, and cirrhosis of the liver, although there aren’t enough studies to fully support it.
Therefore, the dynamics of this mineral in the body should not be taken lightly.
As we have seen, It is very important to check the iron levels in our body and blood. The best way to check for them is through blood tests.
Likewise, we cannot forget that the foundation of good health is a varied and balanced diet.
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