What is Iron, and why is it so important?

Education

Coach Jasmine gives us the run down on Iron

• What is it and why is it important?
Iron is an important component of haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around our body in our blood. Iron also plays a vital role in energy production within the cell. Hence why when we are low in iron we will often experience fatigue as a side effect.

• Types of iron:
There are two types of iron. Haem iron (animal sources such as meat, fish, seafood and offal) and non-haem iron (plant-based source such as legumes, nuts, green leafy veggies and whole grains). The main difference between these two sources is the bioavailability (absorption) and amount of iron these foods contain. The amount of iron and it’s bioavailability is a lot higher in haem iron which can make it difficult for vegetarians or vegans to reach their recommend daily intake for iron.

• Increasing iron absorption:
There are certain foods that’s can actually enhance or inhibit iron absorption which can very useful (or detrimental) for vegetarians/ vegans or for those struggling to consume sufficient iron. 
▫️Calcium actually inhibits iron absorption so aim to consume dairy products in particular away from iron-containing foods.

▫️Tea, coffee and soft drinks also inhibit absorption due to these products containing a high amount of tannins (tannic acid). Therefore, consume tea/ coffee approximately 2 hours before or after iron-containing foods rather than at the same time.

▫️Vitamin C and vitamin A actually increase iron absorption meaning that pairing fruits and veggies with iron-containing foods will increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. Foods high in vitamin C include cherries, oranges, melons, kiwi fruit, lemons, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. In regards to foods high in vitamin A think oranges, carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes and green leafy veggies.