Iron, are you getting enough (and we don't mean the laundry!)
Iron deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in the UK in Women.
Iron is a vital mineral whose main role is in making and maintaining healthy red blood cells, and promoting the transfer of oxygen around the body. It also contributes to the function of muscles (muscles need oxygen to release energy!) hair, nails and skin healthy, as well as helping the immune system fight off infection.
It's also because of this oxygen transfer role that one of the main symptoms of Iron deficiency is Fatigue and Tiredness….I know what you’re thinking….As Mamas tiredness is just part of your day to day, so what else should you look out for?
-Shortness of breath
-Sore mouth or tongue
-Dry/damage skin such as cracking around the mouth
You may also look Paler than usual but if you’ve been living indoors for the last couple of months (Cheers COVID!!) it's likely you’ll be feeling pretty damn pale anyway (that reminds me, go check our Blog on Vitamin D! https://www.onefitmama.co.uk/single-post/that-good-d)
There are some groups that are more likely to suffer from an iron deficiency..
- Babies and young children (especially those born prematurely)
- Women (on account of losing blood during menstruation each month)
- Frequent blood donors
The RDA for adult women is 14.8mg/day however that increases to
mg for pregnant women and the WHO recommends breastfeeding mums' take an iron supplement whilst they are feeding to help their baby or toddler maintain their iron stores. So its definitely a good idea to look at your diet and maybe make some changes to your weekly shopping list.
Mussels have the highest % of Iron/volume so if you’re a shellfish lover why not treat yourself to a mules marinier?
Then you’ve got Liver as the 2nd highest...Liver Pate on your sarnies anyone?
Pumpkin seeds are up next (Yes Plant based foods also contain lots of Iron!), on the theme of Plants; Lentils, Pulses, Spinach and leafy greens, Quinoa, Dried Apricots have also got high levels of Iron.
The more well known options include Beef and other red meats so there should be at least one food option that tickles your tea time fancy.
If you are struggling to increase your intake through your diet you may want to consider an oral supplement which most high street chemists and even some supermarkets will stock. Iron supplements do have a tendency to block your pipes so to speak so if you find yourself constipated after taking them for a little while it might be worth reducing the amount you are taking. There is also a new and cute way to add iron to your daily ritual and that is with the very clever Lucky Iron Fish. The lucky iron fish is quite simply a little fish made from iron which when dropped into boiling water or liquids releases up to 8mg of iron per time and can last up to 3 years, pretty nifty eh?
Also to note Caffeine inhibits the absorption of Iron, so hold off having a cuppa/coffee with your Meals and instead swap it for a glass of Orange juice as Vitamin C aids absorption.
As a general rule of thumb, leave 30mins before or after a meal before drinking Caffeine to allow your body enough time to get the iron from the foods you’ve eaten.
If you are experiencing symptoms or think that maybe you are suffering from an iron deficiency its always a good idea to chat with your GP who will complete a quick blood test to check your levels. There may be occasions when those symptoms are indicative of something more serious so always seek medical advice if you are worried. You can find more info about Iron and the NHS approach on their website.