Iron is a mineral that is essential for the body to function. It helps form hemoglobin and transport oxygen through the blood stream. If you get too little iron in your diet, your tissues will not receive enough oxygen. Iron also helps with immunity and liver function.
An iron deficiency can lead to a drop in hemoglobin and red blood cells. This is known as anemia. Symptoms of anemia include fatigue and a general feeling of unwellness, very pale skin, brittle nails, cold hands and feet, headaches, and loss of appetite. If you are suffering from these symptoms, check with your doctor immediately.
If you are iron deficient, there are several easy ways to ensure you get enough iron. The following foods are rich sources of iron:
- Red meat
- Fish and poultry
- Lentils and legumes
- Leafy greens (i.e. spinach)
Iron supplements can also be effective in treating anemia, especially cases caused by pregnancy, heavy menstrual cycles, kidney disease, or chemotherapy.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of iron will depend on age and gender. Pregnant women will need to be sure to take in extra iron.