Did you know that all the cells in your body require iron to use oxygen? This necessary mineral is part of hemoglobin and numerous enzymes, plus it plays a key role in the way your muscles store and use oxygen. Read on to find out what happens when you don't get enough and the many ways you can boost your body's intake of this essential mineral.
Feeling a little blah?
If you don't get enough iron, your body will let you know in a handful of ways. At first, you might notice feeling a bit tired and lethargic. Your work or school performance will start to drop, but at that point you still might be blaming a lack of sleep or a hard workout the day before. As iron deficiency progresses, you might notice your body temperature failing to regulate. You might also start to get sick more often as your immunity drops. It's even possible to develop a case of glossitis, which means your tongue gets inflamed and feels like it's burning.
Ways to get the iron you need
- Choose a multivitamin or dietary supplement that meets the daily recommended levels. Be careful with supplements, though, as too much of this mineral can lead to serious complications, such as hemochromatosis.
- Enjoy some seafood. Clams and oysters are both high in this mineral, with three ounces of clams containing 23.8 milligrams, and three ounces of oysters containing 10.2 milligrams.
- Enjoy your favorite fortified dry cereal. Take a moment to read the label to determine exactly how much your cereal contains, and confirm the serving size to make sure you really get the amount you think you're getting.
- Savor a three-ounce serving of red meat or liver to add between 2.8 and 9.9 milligrams to your diet.
- As an alternative to meat, try a 1/2 cup serving of legumes to add approximately three milligrams to your diet.
- Toss 1/2 cup of fresh spinach to your favorite salad as an enjoyable way to slip 3.2 milligrams into your meal.
A number of factors affect the exact amount of iron each person needs. The amounts range from 0.27 milligrams per day for infants up to 27 milligrams per day for pregnant women. The CDC provides a chart you can refer to for general guidelines as to how much of this key mineral your body needs. Even with the chart as a guideline, however, you should still discuss your mineral needs with your Atlanta physician before adding any supplements to your diet.