benefits of iron

Benefits of Iron

Iron is an essential mineral. It is needed to make red blood cells which are cells that carry oxygen around our body. Iron helps to reduce tiredness and supports our immune and brain function. Did you know 61% of Irish women aged 18-50 years  have inadequate iron intakes and the recommended iron intake is 14mg per day.  

2 Signs That You May Need More Iron

  1. Exhaustion a common symptom of inadequate iron levels but is possibly the most difficult one to detect. We’re so used to leading busy lives that often we just dismiss being tired as being normal. Inadequate iron intake can result in less oxygen reaching organs and tissues due to a reduction in red blood cells, which can leave us feeling exhausted. If you are feeling particularly fatigued and you have other symptoms such as irritability,  iron might have something to do with it, but it’s always best to get checked over by your doctor.
  2. Our brain uses approximately 20% of the oxygen in our bloodstream. Iron is necessary to maximise the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood making it important for brain health. When iron levels are inadequate the body will prioritise getting oxygen to your brain before it worries about other tissues, so you might therefore find your brain runs a bit slower than usual if you have inadequate iron levels. 

Top 3 tips on how to get more iron in your diet:

Type of iron
Iron from different foods is absorbed differently by the body. Iron in meat (haem iron) is more easily absorbed than the iron in grains and vegetables (non-haem) iron sources.  While red meat and spinach contain similar amounts of iron, the type of iron contained in the spinach (non haem) contains compounds which make it difficult for the body to absorb.

Phytates, which are found in plant foods such as grains, beans and nuts can reduce iron absorption. However, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water by stopping your consumption of these foods. Instead incorporate foods containing vitamin C into the meal to help counteract the effect.

Iron and Vitamin C 
Vitamin C increases iron absorption from both haem and non haem iron sources. Eating foods that naturally contain vitamin C at the same time as foods containing iron such as peppers, peas, broccoli and brussel sprouts, will help boost absorption. Consuming iron fortified foods such as Avonmore Slimline Milk which contains both Iron and Vitamin C and can provide up to 37% of your recommended daily intake of Iron in a 250ml serving.

Foods that contain iron (consume with vitamin C rich foods to help increase iron absorption).

  • Red meat
  • Fish
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Iron-fortified foods such as Avonmore Slimline Milk