Iron works like a mineral in the human body that eventually influences the transport of oxygen through the entire body; an important task! An iron deficiency can also have serious consequences. Read on because we will tell you everything about this deficiency and how you can prevent it.
What is iron?
Before we going further into what an iron deficiency is, it may be useful to know what iron is. Iron is an important mineral for the production of hemoglobin. That hemoglobin is in turn an important element of red blood cells. And what about these red blood cells? They transport oxygen back through the entire human body.
You can obtain iron from both animal and plant-based food products. The first piece of the small intestine: the duodenum subsequently absorbs the majority of the iron in the body.
Types of iron
There are two different types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron The first one can be found in animal products, non-heme iron is also in plant-based products such as unsalted cashews, kidney beans and cooked spinach. The animal heme iron has a great advantage compared to its plant-based ‘little brother’: it is absorbed better so that the chance of an iron deficiency is reduced.
Aids for the absorption of iron
Fortunately, there are quite a lot of aids that can help you in absorbing iron. Especially for people who do not have animal products in their eating pattern, such as vegetarians and vegans, taking a large quantity of vitamin C is a solution. Vitamin C ensures that non-heme iron is absorbed better from plant-based food. Eating enough vegetables and fruit therefore promotes the iron absorption in the human body.
Recognizing an iron deficiency
Just like with the example of magnesium, it is possible that you build up an iron deficiency. This is for instance possible in people who do not eat meat or fish. You will read more about this later on, but first we have the key question of this piece: how to you recognize an iron deficiency? The most common symptoms are:
quickly out of breath,
light to pale skin, funny feeling in the legs; restlessness.
If these complaints would be happening for quite some time and also lasting: please consult with the general practitioner. In extreme cases of iron deficiency, you may contract anemia.
Risk groups of iron deficiency
As previously stated, vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk of iron deficiency, but they are by far not the only ones. A risk is not lurking that quickly because as soon as the body notices an iron deficiency, the body itself extracts more iron from food. However, the following groups need to watch out: women between the ages of 20 and 30, pregnant women and breastfeeding women. For young children it is also important to pay careful attention to iron.