When it comes to good health, iron is an important mineral
It’s used to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen to all parts of your body. Without enough iron, you may develop iron deficiency anemia, which could leave you feeling constantly tired and lacking in appetite. It can also lead to pale skin, dark circles under the eyes, brittle hair, irritability and difficulty concentrating.
The amount of iron you need each day depends on your age and sex. According to Dietitians of Canada, women between the ages of 19 and 50 should aim for an intake of 18 milligrams a day, which includes sources of iron from food and supplements. It’s not always easy to get the recommended daily amount, and some populations are at higher risk of deficiency.
Read on to see if you need to pay particular attention to your iron intake.
Women who are pregnant
Iron is a crucial mineral during pregnancy due to the body’s increased blood volume. Women who are expecting should aim for 27 milligrams of iron a day — about 50 per cent more than they need when they’re not pregnant. If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement along with your prenatal vitamins.
Our bodies don’t absorb iron from plant-based sources as well as they absorb iron from animal sources, which is why vegetarians need approximately twice as much iron as their meat-eating counterparts. Good plant sources of iron include peas, lentils, dried beans and certain fruits and vegetables. In Canada, some flours, pastas and cereals are fortified with iron, making them good options for vegetarians.
During menstruation, your body’s iron stores are depleted. In women with light-to-moderate flows, the body should be able to replace the lost red blood cells. But women with heavy periods are at higher risk of iron deficiency anemia. If you have a heavy flow month after month, you may be at risk.
Chances are, the average gym-goer is not at an increased risk of iron deficiency. But if you’re very active, you could have an increased need for iron. That’s because your body can lose small amounts of iron during tough workouts. High-impact activities such as running can also lead to the loss of red blood cells, a phenomenon called foot strike.
Iron not only helps athletes perform, it can help them perform better. According to a 2014 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, women who took daily iron supplements were able to exercise harder than women who did not take a supplement. In other words, consuming more iron can help you pump more iron.
When it comes to iron supplements, you want to look for a formula that is high-quality, easily absorbed and free of artificial colours and flavours. Try Floradix® Liquid Iron and Vitamin Formula, a plant-based formula that’s easy on the digestive tract. Formulated for maximum absorption and containing whole food and herbal extracts, Floradix is safe and dairy-, lactose- and alcohol-free. For more information, go to florahealth.com.