Iron food plays an important role in the body. One of the main roles of iron is to help our red blood cells transport oxygen to all parts of the body.
Iron also plays an important role in specific processes within the cell that produce the energy for our body. It is for this reason that one of the first symptoms of low body iron stores is tiredness and fatigue.
Types of iron diet
Haem Iron: This type of iron is found in animal-based foods, like red meat, poultry and fish. Haem iron is easily absorbed by the body.
Non-Haem Iron: This type of iron is found in plant-based foods like cereals, vegetables and legumes. In contrast to haem iron, our body doesn’t absorb non-haem iron as easily. However, because it is present in the diet in much larger quantities than is haem iron, it is an important source of this mineral. We generally obtain around 65% of our iron requirements from non-haem iron.
To help your body absorb more of the iron from your diet. Try combining foods or drinks rich in vitamin C with foods rich in non-haem iron. Examples of foods and drinks rich in vitamin C include oranges, orange juice, strawberries, kiwi fruit, capsicum and tomatoes.
Our bodies need iron to convert food to energy. Iron plays a vital role in the process by which cells generate energy. Human cells require iron in order to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) from a multi-step process known as cellular respiration. ATP is the body’s primary energy source. Without any iron no ATP can be produced, which is another reason why those lacking iron are easily tired and fatigued.
The skin plays a role in maintaining the iron homeostasis. Moreover, iron helps form collagen, a building block of the skin. A deficiency of iron causes the skin to lose its natural colour and hair to fall out due to the lack of haemoglobin.
Vegans need more iron than non-vegan
Since heme iron is better absorbed by the body, a vegetarian or vegan would need almost twice the daily recommended amount of iron.
Include iron-rich foods like spinach, beans, dry fruits, broccoli, wheat germ, prunes, and peaches to your daily diet. Consume a fair amount of meat and seafood as well.