Could Iron Deficiency be the Chink in Your Armour?

One of the most common complaints I hear from mums is lack of energy. The mind is willing but the body can’t keep up! If you are eating well, regularly and optimally you should be getting good levels of the essential nutrients required for energy production but deficiency can make it an uphill struggle.

fiona kirk soup post

The mineral, iron is one such nutrient and the WHO (World Health Organisation) reports: “Iron deficiency affects more people than any other condition constituting a public health condition of epidemic proportions; over 30% of the world’s population, are anaemic”. Scary statistics!

So, how do you know if you or your children are short of iron? Are any or many of the symptoms below familiar to you?

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Poor appetite
  • An uncomfortable tingling or crawling feeling in your legs

And in your children:

  • Behaviour problems
  • Repeat infections
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Breathlessness
  • Increased sweating
  • Strange food cravings
  • Failure to grow at the expected rate

Dietary iron comes in two forms: heme iron found in animal flesh which is easily absorbed within the body and non-heme iron found in plant foods but needs good levels of stomach acid and vitamin C to assist its absorption.

Heme iron:

Liver and red meat are the richest sources; white meats, fish and shellfish and eggs also provide good levels.
Venison Broth fiona kirk soup

Non-heme iron:

Herbs and spices (particularly thyme, cumin, turmeric, oregano and black pepper)

Green vegetables (particularly spinach, swiss chard, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, green beans and leeks)

Beans (particularly chickpeas, soya, kidney, black and pinto beans)



Seeds (particularly pumpkin)

Blood loss is often the most common cause of iron deficiency so young girls and women who have heavy periods are particularly at risk and should include as many of the above in their diet as possible. Those who don’t eat meat/fish should ensure that they also increase their intake of foods rich in vitamin C to increase the absorption of non-heme iron. The green vegetables mentioned are good sources so should play a major role as are peppers, tropical fruits, berries, kiwis and citrus fruits.

Iron-rich breakfasts:

Eggs on toast with a glass of fresh orange juice

Fruit smoothies made with silken tofu


Toast with pumpkin seed butter

Iron-rich snacks:

3 bean salad with a kiwi fruit

Lentil salad with peppers

Edamame beans with fresh berries

Pack of mixed seeds with an orange

Iron-rich lunches and dinners:

Beef soup with spinach salad

Smoked Mackerel with broccoli and green beans

Lean grilled steak with roasted peppers and leeks

Stir-fries with plenty of greens and finely sliced liver/beef

Omelette/Fritatta with sliced red peppers

AND add plenty of herbs and spices (particularly those mentioned above) to meals and snacks to get an extra boost.

Should you or your children continue to suffer from the above symptoms despite a change in diet, consult your GP who can determine iron status by means of a blood test. Self medication is not advised as too much can be as detrimental to health as too little and certain forms of iron can cause digestive upset and constipation. However, you may wish to consider a daily multivitamin/mineral which includes iron. Floradix for adults and children over the age of 3 provides an easily absorbed form of iron and is available from good health shops.

For more health tips and fat busting solutions see Fiona’s websites: and

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