Why You May Need More Iron in Your Diet
Do you find yourself nodding off at your desk more than usual or having a hard time focusing? Forget the beauty rest—the real problem could be low iron levels in your blood. Your body needs this essential mineral for many processes, including carrying oxygen throughout the body. Animal products, green leafy vegetables, beans, legumes and wheat germ all contain iron.
Most people get enough iron from the foods they eat, but infants, children, teenage girls, pregnant women and premenopausal women are at risk for anemia, or low iron levels, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Anemia symptoms include difficulty maintaining body temperature, lower immune system function and slow development in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anemia in pregnant women can lead to preterm and small babies. For this reason, many doctors recommend their pregnant patients take a prenatal vitamin with iron.
Iron in food comes in two forms: heme iron, found in foods from animals, and nonheme iron, found in plants and fortified grains. Heme iron is more readily absorbed into the body than nonheme iron, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Sources of iron include:
Oysters and clams
Beans, such as soybeans, lentils and kidney beans
Leafy green vegetables
To increase your iron absorption, pair iron-rich foods with vitamin C. For an excellent source of both iron and vitamin C, try this Lentil Salad with Kretschmer Wheat Germ. Perfect for a summertime lunch or dinner, this recipe is great for both vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.
What’s your favorite iron-rich recipe?