Have you ever got a chance to donate blood or plasma to any blood center due to low iron levels? Most of the donors know that their iron levels have to be kept at a healthy level to donate blood, but they don’t usually understand why healthy iron levels are important.
Let’s make it simple. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to transport it in your body. If you don’t have enough iron, your body can not make enough healthy oxygen.
“Every cell in the body needs iron,” says Dr. Reed E. Drews, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center. “Even though the hemoglobin may be at a level sufficient to deliver oxygen to the tissues, you need iron for other things—for example, in your muscles and brain cells.”
Iron and Anemia
Not having enough iron is called Anemia. If someone who has suffered from severe anemia knows that it can be a challenge to maintain a normal life while getting your iron stores to where they should be.
Symptoms of Anemia
Some common Iron deficiency anemia signs and symptoms may include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Poor appetite, especially in infants and children with iron deficiency anemia
- Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or starch
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheartedness.
- Weakness and pale skin.
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath.
- Brittle nails, cold hands, and feet.
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue.
Animal-Based Sources of Iron
- Liver (chicken or lamb)
- Egg (chicken)
- Canned salmon
Plant-Based Sources of Iron
- Legumes (such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas)
- Firm tofu
- Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
- Nuts, especially cashews and almonds
- Wholegrain cereals such as oats or muesli, wholemeal bread, brown rice, amaranth, and quinoa
- Dried apricots
- Vegetables such as kale, broccoli, spinach, and green peas.
Iron is an essential mineral that plays a critical role in transporting oxygen around the body. When we eat food with iron, iron is absorbed into our body, mainly through the upper part of our small intestine. Iron also helps to keep the immune system healthy. Eating a balanced, healthy diet, including good sources of iron, helps to prevent any deficiencies.