Iron Essentials: Nourishing your Body Naturally

Iron Essentials: Nourishing your Body Naturally

Iron is an essential mineral in the body for growth and development. Its primary function is in haemoglobin synthesis, a protein in red blood cells responsible for the transportation of oxygen. It is also used by the body to make myoglobin, which provides oxygen to the muscles.

Everyone needs iron, but just how much iron you need depends on a number of factors, including your age, gender, diet, body composition etc. We can break iron into two categories, heme iron, that is found in animal products, and nonheme iron, from plant-based sources. Vegetarians need almost twice as much iron in their diet, as nonheme iron is not absorbed as well by the body as heme iron.

Effects of iron on health

While some uses of iron in the body have been mentioned above, its primary contributing is in preventing iron deficiency anaemia, which can have substantial consequential problems. When the body has low levels of iron, you may not notice any immediate symptoms, as the body will begin to use up iron stored in various parts of the body, including the liver, muscles and in the bone marrow. 

However, as your body’s iron levels begin to dwindle, symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia can start to show up. When the levels of iron become too low, the body’s red blood cells become shrunken, carrying less haemoglobin, meaning less oxygen can be carried from the lungs and around the body. 

Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia include tiredness and fatigue, weakness, problems with memory and concentration etc. As levels of blood oxygen are consistently lowered, other symptoms include difficulty controlling body temperature, reduced ability to work or exercise and a lowered immune system. 

What can we do to make sure our iron levels are maintained?

The majority of the necessary intake of iron for adults can be obtained through a rich and balanced diet. Iron rich foods include:

  • Meats
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Beans and pulses
  • Nuts, seeds, fruits

Iron can also be added to fortified food products – products which have nutrients added to them to give them an enhanced dietary impact. Examples of this could include breakfast cereal and bread.

Are you getting enough iron?

While an accurate reading of your individual iron level can only really be provided by a healthcare professional, there are some groups that are more “at risk” of low iron levels, or iron deficiency anaemia: 

  • Pregnant women
  • Premature or low birth-weight babies
  • Regular blood donors
  • Women with heavy-flow periods
  • Patients with cancer or gastrointestinal (GI) disorders

Exploring iron supplements

Iron can be found in many forms of supplementation, including both multivitamin supplements, and in supplements where iron is the only nutritional component. Supplements can be used to relieve symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia, under guidance of a healthcare provider. For a vegan friendly, UK made, high-strength iron supplement, try ours here.

It is important to note that dietary supplements have a warning label that they should be kept out of the reach of children.  Accidental overdose is a leading cause of fatal lead poisoning in children under 6. 

Navigating side effects

There is some collective unrest around the use of iron supplements, stemming from both misconceptions and misinformation.

It is true that taking very high doses of iron, particularly on an empty stomach, can cause discomfort – constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramping are all commonly sighted symptoms of too much iron. It can also lead to more serious health concerns, such as stomach ulcers and inflammation. 

In the most extreme cases, iron at levels that are too high can cause organ failure and death. So, while iron supplements can be very useful in adjusting for circumstances in which one may have iron deficiency, they ought to be taken under guidance of a healthcare professional. 

At Etanics we strive to provide the necessary insights and information to empower our customers with their own health and wellbeing. We are committed to providing high-quality supplements that nourish your body naturally, and support your journey towards optimal wellbeing. Remember that the key lies in informed decision-making and listening to your own unique needs. 

Back to blog