The condition wherein the blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells is called Iron Deficiency Anaemia. When you don’t have enough iron in your body, the blood cannot produce enough haemoglobin to carry oxygen throughout your system. As a result, you are always tired and out of breath.
Low in iron?
Aside from extreme fatigue and shortness of breath, other symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia include:
- Pale skin
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheaded-ness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails, dry and damaged skin and hair
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt, or starch
Upping your iron intake
The best way to ensure that you are getting enough iron is to check your diet and to eat foods rich in iron.
- Red meat and organ meats: Red meat has always been the go-to source for iron in our diets as it is the most accessible way to get iron. It is also rich in protein, zinc, selenium and several B vitamins. Many people might shy away from organ meats but they are extremely nutritious, not to mention, yummy. Organ meats like liver, kidney, and heart are rich in iron. They are also a great source of Choline, a nutrient important for good brain and liver function.
- Dark green, leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale: Ever wonder why Spinach keeps Popeye “strong till the finish”? 100g of spinach provides 20% of the RDI for iron. The fact that spinach is also high in Vit.C makes this a good 2 for 1 combo punch, since the all important Vit. C boosts iron absorption.
- Dried fruit: Raisins, apricots, dates, and figs are a good way to get more iron. Eat them alone or over oats, yoghurt, and desserts.
- Legumes, beans, and other pulses: Vegetarians may have a hard time getting iron into their diets but legumes come to the rescue. It comes as no surprise that one of the iron rich foods are legumes, beans, and other pulses. Try to incorporate beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, and soybeans. They’re not only loaded with iron, but are rich in folate, potassium, and magnesium as well.
- Seafood: particularly, shellfish, is a great source of iron. Heme iron, found in shellfish is more easily absorbed by the body than the non-heme iron found in plant sources. So go for clams, oysters, and mussels. In fact, a 100g serving of clams can provide 155% of the RDI for iron.
- Iron-fortified foods: Another easy way to get more iron is to look for iron fortified foods such as cereals and bread.
- Seeds and nuts: Here’s an easy way to get iron into your diet without actually cooking something… raw (or toasted or roasted) nuts and seeds are a good way to get some iron. For example, the humble pumpkin seed is packed with nutrients like vitamin K, zinc, magnesium, and manganese. A mere ounce contain a whopping 26% of the RDI of iron.