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Nutritional Spotlight: Iron

You take your vitamins, get enough sleep, and exercise on the regular. So why are you so tired? You’re pumping iron — without popping iron.

Signs you might have a deficiency (which causes anemia) include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and struggling to concentrate. Blood loss from accidents, surgeries, or even donations can mess with your precious iron reserves. Even worse, prescription medications like Zantac or blood pressure medications can actually block your body from absorbing it. You might need to take iron supplements.

The Benefits

Though women have lower iron requirements post-menopause, they still need to keep an eye on this important mineral, which calls your red blood cells home base. It is vital in those cells’ role of transporting oxygen from the lungs to every other part of the body. Muscle function, brain health, even proper body temperature have iron to thank.

Roughly two-thirds of the body’s iron is found in hemoglobin, which iron helps form in the first place. Net-net: If you’ve got enough iron, you’ve got the key not only keeping your RBCs in tip-top shape, you’ve also got the secret ingredient to keep them coming.

The Best Bets 

Red meat is a commonly referenced source of iron, but there are plenty of plant-based sources as well. Dark green leafy veggies (kale, spinach, broccoli), legumes, lentils, sprouts, soy beans, whole grains, blackstrap molasses, and dried fruits are all great ways to get what you need. Want to boost absorption? Give your meal a vitamin C boost: Pile tomatoes on your next burger or squeeze lemon on your salad.

If you’re looking to go the supplement route, we love ErythroPro from Premier Research Labs, but be sure to consult your doctor regarding proper dosage.

Photo: Boltenkoff

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