Iron is a mineral not often considered when we picture our ideal diet, but it is such an important part of our wellbeing. Iron plays a key role in growth and development, transportation of oxygen, and neurological function. When we are getting enough, it’s easy to forget but the moment we fall short of our body’s needs, that deficiency tends to manifest itself in less than ideal ways.
A lack of iron can result in mental fogginess, lethargy, dizziness, fatigue, brittle nails, hair loss, headaches, and irritability. Because iron plays such an important role in transporting oxygen to your lungs and thus, your muscles, those who are iron deficient may experience early onset fatigue setting them a big step back during their exercise/daily movement.
According to the Food & Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron in adults 19-50 years is 8mg/day for men and 18mg/day for women. Pregnancy, various disease states or illnesses, vegan/vegetarian diets, or high levels of physical activity can increase these daily needs.
So where do we get it? Common and more easily accessible sources of iron include chicken, lean beef, turkey, tofu and select fortified breakfast cereals. If you’re wanting to shake up your diet a bit more, iron can also be found in high amounts in oysters and muscles. Think about that the next time you hit up your local seafood restaurant!
Being cognizant about maintaining your iron levels is a great practice to develop. So the next time you're planning your next grocery trip, consider some sources of iron as a part of your well rounded diet!