Pump in some iron

Pump in some iron

If you have been getting this newsletter for a while you will know that I recommend everyone does at least two sessions a week of strength training to maintain their muscle mass.  Although it doesn’t have to involve actual weights, in gym language this is often called ‘pumping iron.’

Hopefully you are doing some form of ‘pumping iron.’

I don’t think however, that I’ve written about the other kind of iron—the nutrient— that you need to be pumping into your body.

Iron deficiency affects a great number of people, especially women. That’s not a good thing since the mineral is involved in a number of important bodily functions, from producing red blood cells to keeping our skin, hair, and nails healthy.

The recommends daily intake of iron is varies for different groups but generally men and post-menopausal women need to consume about 8 mg per day and women just over double that amount.

It is important to know that not all iron is created equal. There are two types: heme and nonheme.

Heme iron is found in meat and fish, while nonheme is in certain leafy greens and iron-fortified grains, such as breakfast cereals. Meat eaters have an easier time getting their daily dose of iron because heme iron is more easily absorbed into the body.  That’s why it is recommended that vegetarians consume nearly two times more iron each day than people who eat meat.

Luckily vegetarians can get some help by eating iron-rich foods with ones packed with vitamin C, which boosts iron absorption. It’s also important to steer clear of dairy, coffee, and milk while eating iron-rich foods, which can limit absorption.

As a guide to the non-meat-eaters, here are some tasty, meat-free ways to be sure you get your iron.

Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate gives our brains a short-term boost and helps our bodies regulate the stress hormone cortisol.  It also comes packed with iron. It just needs to be dark chocolate made from at least 70 percent cacao.

Breakfast Cereals
Iron doesn’t naturally occur in many of the popular cereals but manufacturers have been fortifying the breakfast staple with vitamins and minerals for decades  Check out the nutrition label to see if your cereal has added iron.

Chickpeas are a good source of iron. Plus, chickpeas are also fairly high in protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.

This South American staple has quickly found its way onto the grocery lists of many people everywhere because it’s gluten-free and packed with protein. It is also a great source of iron and certainly worth adding to your shopping list.

Kidney Beans
We know that beans are good for our heart and digestive system due to their high fibre content but In addition to fiber, beans contain protein and iron.

Lentils are a fantastic source of iron, as well as potassium, folate, and antioxidants. Like quinoa, lentils are incredibly versatile and can be used in numerous recipes and added to salads easily.

So next time you do the shopping, add some of these iron rich foods to your basket to make sure you are getting enough iron in your diet.  Not only is it essential for good health, but it adequate levels are important for exercise performance.

So pump iron and pump in some iron.

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David Beard
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