Posted on February 12, 2018 by Louisa Feary

Iron intake is a vital element to good health. It is an important part of the process that makes red blood cells. Without iron your body cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells and therefore it will struggle to transport oxygen around the body. A lack of iron can lead to an iron deficiency known as anaemia.

Symptoms of anaemia include pale skin, shortness of breath and fatigue. If left untreated anaemia can leave you more at risk of infections and diseases as a lack of iron can affect the immune system. It can also lead to heart conditions and, in serious cases, heart failure.

There are a couple of ways to increase your iron intake to reduce the chances of developing anaemia. These are:

Diet

The simplest way to increase your iron intake is to eat foods that are rich in iron. Heme iron is found in animal products and is the best form of iron to ingest as it is easily absorbed by the body. It can be found in:

  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Other forms of red meat

Non-heme sources are generally found in plant-based foods. It is less easily absorbed than heme iron but for vegetarians it is usually the only option. It can be found in:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Vegetables such as spinach or kale
  • Some rice, wheats, oats or cereals

Importantly there are also ways to increase your absorption levels of iron. Foods high in vitamins A & C as well meat/fish can stimulate iron absorption.

Supplements

For those who struggle to get enough iron through their diet, supplements may be the answer. These are tablets with very high levels of iron designed to boost the levels in anaemic people. These should be taken with care and only if recommended by your doctor as too much iron can lead to vomiting, stomach cramps and other similar side effects.

Josh Remedios, Gym and Spa Supervisor, Chelsea Creek