Could Iron Deficiency be the Chink in Your Armour?
- Mums Tips
- Fitness & Health
- Published on Sunday, 26 May 2013 09:00
- Last Updated on 16 May 2013
- Fiona Kirk
- 0 Comments
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
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.
Eggs on toast with a glass of fresh orange juice
Fruit smoothies made with silken tofu
Toast with pumpkin seed butter
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.