Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guest Post - Iron: Kryptonite for Wonder Women

Hello! Today we have another guest post from Logann! 

You may remember her from this post about food labeling! Today she is going to talk a little about  So enjoy!

Iron: Kryptonite for Wonder Women

Women have many responsibilities and we take care of pretty hefty to-do lists on a daily basis. We also exercise to stay healthy, happy, and wonder women.  But there is a kryptonite to being a woman; iron deficiency. What can we say, it comes with the package and totally sucks. Good news is we can fight it and keep it at bay as well as iron anemia, which is a more severe form of iron deficiency. 

Iron deficiency limits how much oxygen gets to the tissue and muscle.  The results are fatigue, poor attention span, and in some cases decreases immunity, so you are more prone to infection.

There are 2 types of iron sources: heme and non-heme.  Heme iron comes from hemoglobin and is a protein in the blood that carries oxygen to tissues.  Heme can be found in animal products: beef, pork, chicken (got to looooove those thighs), eggs, and fish. 

Non-heme iron comes from plants products and is also what is used to fortify foods.  Now, non-heme iron is not as available as heme iron.  This is referred to as bioavailability and what it means is the iron may be there and you may eat but not all is being absorbed, only a portion of it. Here are some sources of non-heme iron in decreasing order:
§  Fortifieddry cereals (great for snacks!)
§  Fortified instant oatmeal
§  Pumpkin seeds (great addition to trail mixes or homemade granola bars)
§  White beans (always awesome in salads and pasta)
§  Lentils (I like using grains like this as beds to lay my proteins on at dinner, it looks super fancy and taste…well…fancy)
§  Spinach (um, what can’t we put this in, seriously!!)
§  Kidney beans (I open a can of these on Sunday and add them to salads, omelets, pasta, and stir-fry)
§  Chick peas(I love these in salads they have a starchiness that is just so good, all hummus, and falafel are made with chickies)

The requirements for women ages 19-50 are 18mg per day.  However, if you are a vegetarian or vegan your needs increase to 33mg to adjust for bioavailability since the only sources of iron are non-heme.

There are two more gadgets for your anemia-fighting arsenal: Vitamin C and A

Vitamin C increases the bioavailability of non-heme iron containing foods (WOOHOO).  By adding a food with vitamin C or hey why not multiple foods with vitamin C to your meals you will increase intake of all sources of non-heme iron in your meal. Here are some good sources of vitamin C:
  • Bell peppers in all colors: add them to spinach salads, or in a grain salad
  • Grapefruit juice: have a cup with your breakfast to boost the iron in your cereal but remember to watch your serving size (juices can be high in sugar, I really enjoy Simply® or you could make your own)
  • Fruit, really any fruit is going to have a decent to great amount of vitamin C. These can be added to salads, or separately at the end of dinner or with a snack with a fortified cereal or crackers. I’m a HUGE fan of lemon on my sautéed spinach or lemon olive oil vinaigrette on a spinach salad! 

Vitamin A helps take iron to storage and keep it there so getting an adequate amount of vitamin will help fight off anemia.  Good sources of vitamin A are:
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Butternut squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Milk, cheese, eggs

And before we sign off, another shot of the adorable Winston!

Eat clean, train hard, and inspire others!
-Logann {and Jaren}

Disclaimer: Logann is not a doctor, but she does give good tips!
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