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Iron

sangueIron is an important mineral for the body. This mineral is an essential part of hemoglobin, the part of the red blood cells that is needed to take oxygen to the cells. It is also a part of many enzymes used for energy production and to help the immune system run smoothly.

Iron has long been associated with meat and the general thought of mind is that eating meat is the only way to get iron.

However, this is far from the truth. The fact of the matter is that vegans typically consume more iron than meat eaters. It has not so much to do with how much you consume, but rather how much is being absorbed and the quality of the nutrient. Research continues to show that many meat-eaters are consistently deficient in iron.

2 types of iron exist: Heme and non-heme. Heme exists in animal products and is easily absorbed. Non-heme exists in plant based foods and absorbs slower. Vitamin C helps to boost iron absorption in plant based foods and in fact food combinations such as black beans with tomato or scrambled tofu with broccoli are excellent ways to absorb iron.

Iron can be found in many vegetables, dried fruits, grains, legumes, soyfoods, nuts and seeds and other foods, like molasses.

Good sources include:

Breads, cereals, grains

  • Bran flakes (iron fortified)
  • cream of wheat (iron fortified)
  • oatmeal (iron fortified)
  • barley
  • wheat germ
  • brown rice

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Spinach
  • broccoli
  • pumpkin
  • peas
  • collard greens
  • swiss chard
  • beet greens
  • sea vegetables: dulse, kombu, nori or wakame
  • prunes or prune juice
  • dried apricots
  • raisins

Legumes and Beans

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  • black beans
  • black-eyed peas
  • garbanzo beans (chick-peas)
  • kidney beans
  • lentils
  • lima beans
  • navy beans
  • split peas
  • pinto beans

Soyfoods

  • soybeans
  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • soymilk
  • fortified veggie meats

Nuts and seeds

  • almonds
  • almond butter
  • cashews
  • peanuts
  • sunflower seeds

Other Foods

  • Blackstrap molasses
  • dark chocolate
  • vegan energy bar

Proper absorption comes from not eating too many iron blocking foods. Coffee and teas, for example, have tannins that may reduce iron absorption.

Low iron intake symptoms usually include, but are not limited to the following:

    anemia stanca
  • fatigue
  • brittle nails
  • hair loss
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • poor wound healing
  • poor memory
  • poor concentration
  • ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorders)
  • restless leg syndrome
  • night leg cramps
  • constipation
  • night sweats
  • pale skin
  • shortness of breath
  • cold hands or feet
  • swelling or soreness of tongue
  • enlarged spleen
  • frequent infections
  • anemia

The main goal is to have a diet that is balanced enough to allow your body to absorb all the nutrients it needs.

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