Why is iron so important for our bodies?
Iron is an important mineral that aids in the formation of oxygen-carrying materials, including hemoglobin and myoglobin (found in the red blood cells and tissues). When iron levels are low, the oxygen available to the red blood cells and tissues is insufficient for proper function. This can cause anemia.
There are two types of iron that your body needs, non-heme iron and heme iron. Non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods and approximately 2-10% of this iron is absorbed by the body. Heme iron is found in animal products and approximately 10-30% of it is absorbed by the body.
The beautiful thing about these two types of iron is that they must be taken together in order for your body to use them both efficiently. Your body is better able to absorb the non-heme iron when combined with some sort of animal product (heme iron). Likewise, the heme iron is absorbed much more efficiently than any iron supplementation.
In case you didn't catch all that, you must have a proper balance of both plant-based and animal-based foods in your diet to absorb the proper amounts of iron that your body needs. Vegetarianism and Veganism are tricky diets to live by because these people are only getting one source of iron. In addition, this iron source is not being absorbed efficiently because they are not consuming heme iron, which speeds up the process.
In fact, it is proven that vegan dieters are at a higher risk of anemia because they are not getting the proper amounts of iron they need from animal products. You must have a healthy balance of both non-heme and heme iron to provide your body with enough oxygen to work optimally.
Animal products increase iron absorption capabilities more effectively than iron supplements and is the best way to build back iron levels.
Females, especially have a high risk of having low levels of iron due to menstruation. In order to replenish their iron stores, they must be ingesting proper amounts of both non-heme and heme iron before, during, and after their cycles.
As mentioned in a previous post, having a balanced diet is key to maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle. Your plate should be 50% vegetables, 25% starches/carbohydrates, and 25% protein (beef, chicken, eggs, cheese, etc.).
Finally, keep in mind that exercising can inhibit the absorption of some vitamins and minerals because your body is focusing on the work you're putting into your workout. It is important to consume your vitamins and minerals after your workout when your body is at rest.
What do you think? I found this information very interesting and helpful as I have anemia myself. It is extremely important that you balance your lifestyle in order to maintain homeostasis throughout the body.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Until next time,
Disclaimer: I want to make sure that you understand that I am only sharing information that is scientifically proven to be correct for everybody. I am not here to criticize or tell you that your choices are wrong and you must change. I am simply sharing information that I found very interesting and helpful for people who are experiencing iron deficiency anemia or other iron-related issues.