Iron is an essential nutrient, responsible for the transport of oxygen from our lungs to every other part of our body including muscles, our brain and organs (so it’s pretty important). Iron is also especially important for females due to monthly menstrual losses with intake being 18mg/day for women aged 18-51 years compared to 8mg/day for women aged 51+ years.
When it comes to getting your iron, not all iron is created equal. There are two types, heam iron (found in animal products) and non-haem iron (found in plant products). Whilst both of these can help with maintaining healthy iron status, heam iron is more readily absorbed by our bodies.
Heam iron containing foods (the redder the meat, usually means the more iron):
- Beef, lamb, pork
- Chicken and other poultry
- Organ meats
- Green leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Lentils, chickpeas and beans
- Fortified breads and cereals
Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches and reduced ability to do work or exercise. If you feel like you are experiencing these more than you should check in with your GP for a quick blood test or see a dietitian to make sure you’re eating enough.