Iron: plant vs. animal

plant sources of ironIron builds the hemoglobin molecule that carries oxygen to all your body’s cells.

 

Sources of Iron.      Iron comes in two forms – heme iron from animal foods and non-heme iron, from plant foods.

 

Heme iron is purported to be more bioavailable than non-heme iron. Studies have shown that approximately 15-35% of heme iron is utilized by the body versus only 10-20% for non-heme iron.

However, animal foods carry a lot of baggage, such as saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics, all of which increase your risk for chronic diseases.And heme iron has been shown to increase your risk for colon cancer. Not so for non-heme iron.

Common plant food sources of iron include:

  • legumes
  • vegetables: especially leafy greens
  • nuts and seeds
  • whole grains

The most common symptoms of iron deficiency include: anemia, headache, irritability, and in more severe cases, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and weight loss.

But, don’t just rely on regular supplementation, because more is not always better.

Too much iron can increase oxidation in tissues, which promotes aging, and tissue damage to your heart, liver and pancreas.

In next week’s post I will show you how to increase iron absorption using some simple dietary “tricks”

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