One of the most common issues with many meals that we eat is the very little iron they provide. Most of the time, when we choose our meals, we choose what we feel like eating or what we enjoy eating the most.
However we choose to do it, it’s important that we consider iron and this is because iron is responsible for helping the body carry oxygen to all organs. Iron is the crucial element the body uses to make the molecule haemoglobin, whose sole responsibility is to do just that. When the body doesn’t have enough iron, the person starts experiencing symptoms such as inability to focus, dizziness, constant tiredness, weakness and sometimes even breathlessness. If left unattended, it can even progress to heart failure.
Women particularly need to get good at taking enough iron for two reasons:
1. Monthly menstruation causes the body to lose blood frequently predisposing them to anaemia, low haemoglobin and low iron
2. Pregnancy increases the body’s demand for iron because now there are at least two people that need sufficient iron.
Here are things you can do to maintain good iron levels in your body: Ensure your diet is rich in iron: Red meat is a good source but rather, eat lean meat because of cholesterol levels. Other fantastic sources include beans, nuts, green leafy vegetables like spinach, dried fruits, beetroot, eggs, fish, sweet potatoes, etc.
Steer away from a “toast and tea diet”. You can have toast and tea but don’t make this meal your staple because the caffeine in tea and coffee and the bran in the bread don’t allow the body to absorb iron properly
If you can’t include enough iron in your diet and/or you feel any of the symptoms mentioned, you can use supplements. Iron supplements often come in combination with folate which is also very important for preventing anaemia.
This is especially important for all pregnant women and women who can’t sufficiently make up for menstrual losses. Keep making healthy food choices!