02 May Do you need iron supplementation
I was really feeling called to write about this because I found myself saying something when people questioned iron supplementation,When people are looking at supplements, like a multivitamin, they might be checking to see if it has iron because they think they need it or their kids’ need it.
“Unless you’ve been tested for low iron, DO NOT SUPPLEMENT WITH IT DAILY.“
Why Iron Supplementation?
Well, because iron is like a tiger that needs to be caged – aka it always needs to be bound. Too much can harm you. If you have an overabundance in iron, which can easily be done by supplementing with it when you don’t need to, iron stays in the free state causing havoc in our body – it’s an oxidant causing oxidative stress (abundance of free radicals versus antioxidants) inside of us. This leads to tissue and cell damage in the body, which leads to chronic disease.
Since iron is easily found in diet, which I’ll go over in a little bit, daily supplementation for *most* people is not necessary.
What Iron Does For Us
Iron is commonly known to be the oxygen-transporter in our body. Inside the red blood cell, there is hemoglobin protein that carries oxygen around the body. It picks up oxygen in the lungs, binds it, and transports it to other tissues in the body. Heme contains 4 atoms of iron (if you are science nerd like me + like that information!).
Not only does it help oxygen throughout the body, it also..
- Benefits our immune system
- Synthesizes amino acid carnitine – which helps metabolize fatty acids
- Is a part of our cytochrome P450 detox pathways (HELLO DETOX!)
- Is a part of the enzymes that synthesizes serotonin and dopamine (Dopamine being the reward/pleasure neurotransmitter + serotonin being important for our sleepy pathways + mood!)
- Synthesizes collagen
Deficiencies In Iron
So, can people be deficient in iron? YES, of course! Menstruating women are more likely to be iron deficient than men. If you don’t eat enough or you have poor absorption in your intestines, you become deficient. If you’ve been on antacids, PPIs, H-2 Receptor medications, you may not have optimal stomach acid to absorb iron!
When deficient, people often feel tired, have headaches, feel weak, heart palpitations, brittle nails, dry skin, cold hands + feet, and even crave non-food like ice. If you’re reading those symptoms and think “that’s me!”, don’t just go buy iron supplements. Get tested to confirm by your doctor + then consider supplementing with iron, but I always recommend to making eating wholesome food sources a focus point.
Food Sources Of Iron
- Grass-Fed Beef
- Wild Caught Fish
Have you heard that plants have iron too? Sorry, plants only contain non-heme iron, which we are less able to absorb compared to animal meats. Plants also have tannins, phytic acid, and oxalates naturally, but these inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron even further. Animal meats have both non-heme AND heme iron. I’m not saying eat more meat, but I’m saying BE BALANCED. We need both plants + animals and to JUST depend on plants for iron isn’t a great idea.
You can also cook your foods in a cast iron skillet, which helps include more iron if you need to!
Coffee reduces iron absorption, while vitamin C enhances it!
Feel free to comment below any questions or comments! XO