Ladies when you think about iron, do you assume pumping it means pumping some at the gym? While that’s important for good health, it’s also important to be aware of the iron in your body too. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 80 percent of the world’s population is iron-deficient. Women especially are susceptible to this condition.
The Importance of Iron
Adequate levels of this mineral are essential for a number of bodily functions. Iron is a major component in the production of hemoglobin, which is responsible for oxygen transport in red blood cells. Less oxygen traveling through the blood means less getting to your brain and body’s cells. Symptoms of low iron can include feeling tired and run down, shortness of breath and difficulty concentrating. You might also experience splitting nails or “spoon-like” nails that curl upwards. In addition you might also suffer from hair loss, restless legs, cold hands and cold feet. If iron deficiency is left untreated it can turn into anemia where the number of red blood cells decrease as well as hemoglobin levels. In this case you may be pale, bruise easily, feel very weak and even faint.
How Much Iron Is Enough?
Most women need about 18 milligrams of iron per day. This is for adult menstruating women generally between the ages of 19 and 50. Pregnant women need more iron; approximately 27 milligrams daily and lactating women need around 9 to 10 milligrams. As a woman reaches menopause her iron needs decrease to about 8 milligrams per day.
When it comes to iron, more is not always better. Iron is fat-soluble and can build up in tissues and organs where it is stored. It can then develop into iron overload and become toxic to the body. If you are concerned about your iron levels, the best thing to do is get a simple blood test which can tell you your hemoglobin and iron storage levels.
Ways to Boost Iron Levels
If you’re one of the many women suffering from low iron, there are easy ways to boost your levels.
Many people turn to supplements first, but in the case of iron, only do so with the aid of professional medical advice in order to avoid iron overload and severe organ damage. If you are very low, your doctor will suggest a 325 mg supplement taken one or two times a day for several weeks. You are much safer boosting iron levels through diet. The following foods are rich in iron:
Bison or Buffalo
Liver and organ meats
When eating iron rich foods it’s also a good idea to consume them with Vitamin C or a glass of orange juice. Vitamin C helps your body to absorb the iron more efficiently. With proper iron levels you’ll be healthy, fit and full of energy. Iron is practically worth its weight in gold!