The Health Benefits of Iron and Ferritin+
It is believed that around 10 million Americans suffer from iron deficiency. So, if you’ve been feeling very tired lately, there’s a chance a low iron content is to blame. Although the body is able to store about 1 to 3 years of iron, it is really easy for your stores to run out. Why? Not only is iron a notoriously hard mineral to absorb, it can also be easily lost. And while vegetarian and vegan diets are often linked to iron deficiency, steak eaters are also at risk of lacking this essential mineral which plays various important roles in the body.
Read on to see what are the common symptoms of low iron and what you can do to get your energy back.
Who is at risk for iron deficiency?
Even if you think you are eating enough iron-rich foods, much of what we eat or drink can also suppress iron absorption. Do you like coffee or tea? Tannins in coffee, tea, and wine can block iron absorption. High amounts of calcium in dairy products, as well as protein from soybeans, phytates found in unsoaked cereals and beans can also block iron absorption. (1)
Once food reaches our gut, it is our stomach acid that creates the right conditions for optimal iron absorption. If you have low stomach acid or are taking acid reflux medications that work to reduce stomach acid, both can prevent the body from absorbing iron and possibly lead to a deficiency. Bowel problems like IBS and leaky gut can also make iron difficult to absorb.
Although we naturally lose a small amount of iron per day through cell loss and sweating, iron loss can be more serious when caused by blood loss due to internal ulcers, injuries. or monthly periods (especially if they are heavy).
You may also be low in iron if you (2):
- Are a vegetarian or vegan (3, 4)
- Are you pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating
- You have digestive problems, such as IBS or leaky intestines, which may affect absorption
- Have had blood loss due to ulcers, an accident or surgery
- Take medicines that reduce stomach acid (prilosec, omeprazole, etc.)
- Are over 65
- Have parasites or have had an infection
- Are an athlete (5)
Health Fact: 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women and 3% of men are iron deficient. (6)
What are the health benefits of iron?
Iron (Fe) is an essential mineral that we need to get from our diet. Iron is important in keeping us healthy.
Iron is needed to keep our cells oxygenated
Our red blood cells contain an important protein called hemoglobin which helps them carry fresh oxygen throughout the body. About 70% of all the iron in our body is found in our red blood cells. Hemoglobin, which gives blood its color, can only efficiently transport oxygen to our cells if it is bound to iron. Once we start to run out of iron, our red blood cells may find it difficult to meet our body’s demand for oxygen.
Iron helps turn food into energy
Enzymes are types of proteins that catalyze or increase the rate of chemical reactions in our cells. Many need iron, including those that convert nutrients in our food into an important form of cellular energy called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). (7)
Iron is important for immunity
If you get sick often, low iron content may be to blame. Necessary for strong immune cells and a strong immune response, iron is essential if you want your body to be able to fight infections and keep sniffles away. (8)
Iron helps improve mood, focus, memory and focus
In addition to helping oxygenate the brain, iron also plays an important role in the production of myelin. This protective layer, also called a “sheath,” forms around nerve cells and allows electrical signals to travel efficiently from cell to cell. When iron levels are low, our nerve function is impaired. It can cause brain fog and we may have trouble concentrating. (9)
Iron is also important in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, the happy hormone, and dopamine, which aids in productivity and focus. Getting your iron levels back on track can help keep your brain running on all cylinders so you can live your best life. (ten)
Iron is important for a healthy pregnancy
About 50% of women who get pregnant suffer from iron deficiency. While the recommended average daily iron for an adult woman is around 18 mg per day, a pregnant woman’s body needs more than 27 mg of iron per day. Iron is necessary for the development of a healthy baby, and getting enough iron during pregnancy is vital. If the iron deficiency (anemia) becomes more severe, it can lead to premature birth, a low birth weight baby, and even postpartum depression. In serious situations, it can lead to miscarriage. (11)
What are the symptoms of low iron?
If you have low iron content, it is difficult for your blood to stay oxygenated, which is why you may feel weak, exhausted, or short of breath when your stores are low. When our iron levels drop so low that it affects our hemoglobin, this is called anemia.
Symptoms of low iron can sometimes stay hidden unless you become anemic. But not always.
Symptoms of iron and low iron deficiency can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feelings of weakness
- Brain fog
- Increased heart rate
- Skipped heartbeat or heart palpitations
- Thyroid problems
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Pale skin
- Bad sleep
How Much Iron Do You Need?
Here are the recommended daily intakes of iron in healthy people according to the NIH :
14 to 18 years old = 15 mg iron / day
19 to 50 years = 18 mg iron / day
51 years and over = 8 mg iron / day
14 to 18 years = 11 mg iron / day
19 years and over = 8 mg iron / day
What are the best foods to boost your iron?
Eating foods rich in iron should always be your first priority when building your iron. And getting plenty of vitamin C can help increase iron absorption.
In food, there are two types: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is iron that comes from hemoglobin found in food sources of animal origin such as meat, seafood, and chicken. Non-heme iron comes from plant sources like spinach and peas.
Heme iron can be found in foods like (per 3 ounce serving):
- Canned clams = 23.8 mg (12)
- Beef or chicken liver = 8 mg (13)
- Mussels = 5.7 mg (14)
- Oysters, cooked = 7 mg (15)
- Beef (3.5 oz) = 2.7 mg (16)
According to myfooddata.com, some of the best plant-based sources of iron include:
Legumes (1 cup cooked)
- Lentils = 6.6 mg (17)
- White beans = 6.6 mg (18)
- Chickpeas 4.6 mg (19)
- Black-eyed peas = 5.2 mg (20)
- Black beans = 3.6 mg (21)
Green leaves and vegetables (1 cup)
- Spinach = 6.4 mg (36% DV) (22)
- Swiss chard (chopped) = 4 mg iron (22% DV) (23)
- Morel mushrooms (chopped) = 8 mg (45% DV) (24)
- Asparagus = 4.13 mg (23% DV) (25)
Other dietary sources of iron
- Dark chocolate 70-85% cocoa, (1 square oz) = 3.7 mg iron (26)
- Pumpkin seeds, unshelled (1 oz) = 2.29 mg (27)
- Oats (1 cup cooked) = 3.4 mg (28)
- Quinoa (1 cup cooked) = 2.8 mg (29)
Check out the full list of foods high in iron referenced here.
Even if you eat a balanced diet with a variety of different iron-rich food sources, including meats, poultry, legumes, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds, you may need to take a supplement to ensure that your stores are reaching healthy levels.
What if you are low in iron?
If you think you are low in iron, it is important to have your levels tested by a doctor. Too much iron can be as dangerous as too little. If it turns out that you need a boost, adding iron-rich foods to your diet and supplementing your daily routine will be your best bet.
What’s the best iron supplement to take?
There are a variety of types of iron supplements to choose from. But they are certainly not all made the same. Some are difficult to absorb while others can cause really nasty side effects like constipation, abdominal cramps and nausea. Others may give you short-term energy, but cannot help you build up your iron stores for the long term to keep you healthy.
However, using a herbal iron supplement can be a safe and effective way to increase and maintain your iron intake (30). Plus, no more of those nasty side effects.
A revolutionary herbal iron supplement called Ferritin + from Flora Health is an iron supplement made from organic peas that is naturally high in iron. Iron is extracted from peas in the form of a protein called ferritin which is easily absorbed. For maximum effectiveness, Ferritin + capsules are naturally enteric-coated to protect the ferritin protein from degradation by stomach acid. Ferritin + is then slowly released and completely absorbed once it enters the intestine. (31)
This helps to minimize digestive upset and maximize efficiency. It’s a winning victory!
Taking Ferritin + can help:
- Support energy and mental clarity *
- Prevent iron deficiency anemia and boost energy *
- Support the production of healthy red blood cells *
With just one capsule needed per day, providing 111% of your RDI of iron per day, Ferritin + is a safe and gentle slow-release form of iron that is:
- Non-irritant and non-constipating
- Gluten free
Perfect whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, Ferritin + is a gentle way to get your iron levels back to where they need to be so you can get that extra kick in your walk.
If you’re feeling weak and sluggish, be sure to get your iron levels tested by a doctor to find out where you are before you start a supplement.
If you think you might benefit from a herbal iron supplement, visit Flora health to try Ferritin +!
Our sincere thanks to