‘Iron is important because it helps your body to make haemoglobin. Haemoglobin, or ‘Hb’, is the protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen around your body and gives blood its red colour.’
(NHS, Iron in Your Diet)
A diet low in iron will more than likely lead to the body experiencing iron deficiency anaemia. The most common reasons for iron deficiency anaemia is by blood loss, pregnancy or the lack of iron present in the diet.
The main symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia are tiredness, lack of energy, pale skin, shortness of breath and noticeable heart palpitations. However, symptoms can be a lot less noticeable ranging from headaches, experiencing tongue pain, too finding it hard to swallow!!!
If iron deficiency anaemia is left untreated you can be more at risk from illness and infection, as iron will not be present to maintain a healthy immune system!
There are several age-related issues that lack of iron in the diet could cause, at different intervals throughout life.
Babies require the iron that is present in the mother’s breast milk and should be receiving up to 11mg of iron daily. Breastmilk is pretty amazing due to the fact that it will adapt to the growing babies needs, so the correct amount of iron will always be available this way.
Without the presence of iron at such a young age, babies will be unable to create quality haemoglobin, which will cause a lack of oxygen being carried in the bloodstream. Also, babies need iron for their young brains to develop!
At around seven years old, children will be experiencing a period of extreme growth and development. They need to receive plenty of iron within their diet to support the amount of physical activity they do (such as running around the schoolyard playing tag or whatever they play these days!) but to also avoid the tiredness and muscle weakness that would come as a result of lack of iron.
Pubescent teenagers, particularly girls, will see their iron levels deplete notably during menstruation. If iron is not supplied through the diet at this time, anaemia will begin to occur.
So yeah! Iron is super important! You might already be getting your daily requirement of iron in your favourite foods such as red meat, chicken, liver (yes, really!), eggs, nuts and everyone’s favourite…KALE!
Vegan or Veggie? NO PROBLEM! Iron can come from other sources other than meat although it may be slightly harder to absorb so make sure you’re getting your Vitamin C too as it helps with the absorption!
Thank you for reading!