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All you need to know about Iron
What is iron and what does it do?
Iron is a mineral that is responsible for haemoglobin production levels in our bodies. Haemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells, and helps to carry oxygen around the body. Iron also helps to support our immune systems, so that we can fight infection. It also helps us to regulate our body temperature. If you don't get enough iron in your diet, you can feel very weak and tired, and become more prone to infection. A serious lack of iron can lead to conditions like anaemia. Consult your GP if you feel as though you are not getting enough iron in your diet.
How much iron should I be getting?
It is recommended that men get around 8.7mg of iron per day in their diet. For women, it is around 14.8mg per day. Women lose iron during menstruation, and if they are breast-feeding following birth, so during these times, their iron needs will be greater. After the age of 50 however, women need less iron (8.7mg per day). If you are not getting enough iron in your diet because you don't eat a lot of or any meat, an iron supplement may be a good solution.
What are the signs of iron deficiency?
If you don't get enough iron in your diet, you will not be producing enough haemoglobin, which could lead to iron deficiency anaemia. Common symptoms of this condition include fatigue, pale skin, feeling weak, shortness of breath, a headache and a sore tongue. In extreme cases, hair loss can also occur. Speak to your GP if you think this may apply to you, as you may require iron tablets to supplement your diet.
Which foods are naturally high in iron?
Meats such as beef, pork and lamb are high in iron. Fish and shellfish, liver or liver paté and eggs also contain high levels of iron. You can also get iron by eating a diet that is high in leafy greens such as spinach, as well as nuts and seeds, beans and chickpeas.