Would You Like a Side of Iron With That?

by Alexandria Chaitin on April 22, 2014

By Ali Chaitin

Are you constantly tired, dizzy or ill-tempered? Do you have constant headaches? Are you a vegetarian? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you might be an Anemic. This disease is the most common effect of iron deficiency. Having anemia means that your blood is unable to carry enough oxygen to the rest of your body. This is because a lack of iron leads to the inability to make hemoglobin— the iron-rich protein in your body that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Iron deficiency occurs when your body’s iron supply is running low. This can be caused from many different reasons. One is when your body loses more blood than it can replace. An example of this is cancer in the esophagus or colon. Another reason for low iron supply is when your body does not do a good job of absorbing iron. For example, those with Celiac disease are unable to absorb iron due to damage to their intestines lining. The intestines are covered by villi, but when people with celiac disease consume gluten, this damages the villi. Therefore, if a person is unaware that they have celiac disease and continue to eat gluten, they will become malnourished due to an increased amount of damaged villi.

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Certain people that are at a major risk for anemia is vegetarians and vegans. This is because they do not get enough iron in their diet through the food they eat. A main source of iron in the diet is meat and other animal products, such as milk and eggs. The iron that comes from meat is absorbed easily into the body and typically 40% of the iron is able to attach to the heme molecule and therefore be absorbed in the body. Iron is also prevalent in beans and some grains. The issue with the iron that comes from beans and legumes is it can inhibit the absorption of iron. A study done in India showed that once you increased Vitamin C intake in the diet, iron absorption was easier and most anemic people made full recovery. This is because Vitamin C can overcome the inhibitors of iron that can come from legumes and grains. Therefore, it is important that vegetarians get enough iron, but also Vitamin C so that the iron is adequately absorbed in the body.

Now that you’ve learned a lot about iron deficiency and anemia, you may have convinced yourself that you have all of the symptoms and are anemic. To reassure yourself, there is a way to find out the truth. Visit your physician in order to get a blood test and a physical exam. Also, talk to your physician about supplements you can take in order to cure your anemia.

Anemia can be life threatening if it is not treated. If you do not have enough oxygen in your body it can damage your organs. For example, your heart will have to work harder than those who are not anemic to make up for the lack of oxygen and red blood cells. This increased output can lead to heart damage or possible heart failure.

The amount of iron required is varied by age and gender. For example, males from the age of 19 to 50 need 8 mgs of Iron per day. On the other hand, women from the age of 19-50 need 18 mgs of iron per day. Women need increased iron intake because of menstruation. Eating foods high in Iron can prevent anemia. These include: fish, tofu, dried fruits, and lean red meat. Vitamin C can also help the body absorb vitamin C, so remember to eat fruits such as oranges and papaya. Please contact your physician before including any supplements in your diet.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/anemia.html

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000584.htm

http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/anemia.html

http://www.everydayhealth.com/anemia/anemia-risk-for-vegans-and-vegetarians.aspx

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/iron

Image Source: dailymorningcoffee.com


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elena Russo April 22, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Truly, an extraordinarily insightful article!

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Allie Stauss April 24, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Fantastic writing! Interesting subject.

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Ali Danziger April 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Great analysis! It really made me aware of how a lack of certain foods in ones diet can greatly affect their health and overall well-being.

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Bailey E April 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Great article with some awesome insight and research.

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Ananya April 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Awesome article Ali! I am a vegetarian and I agree with everything that you wrote! Great job!

Reply

Elizabeth Kennedy April 24, 2014 at 8:43 pm

This article was super helpful when assessing my diet.

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