If you’re feeling a little bit sluggish, you may think that the culprit is overworking and not getting enough quality sleep. But there are other factors that may be coming into play, particularly your diet. If you are not getting enough iron, a crucial mineral for your health, anemia from an iron deficiency may the source of your tiredness.
While getting some more sleep (and better sleep) and having a cup of coffee in the morning can help beat that malaise, getting more iron can go a long way to giving you your energy back.
Why Iron is Important
As mentioned above, a lack of iron can lead to anemia, which is a symptom of health problems that come from malnutrition. Anemia is a condition in which there is not enough hemoglobin in the red blood cells, as well as a deficiency of red blood cells altogether, which results in inefficient transport of oxygen throughout the body. When there is not enough oxygen reaching the brain, a feeling of sluggishness and lack of energy is the result.
Beyond just the tiredness you experience, an iron deficiency can also cause headaches, weakness, a lack of concentration or mental clarity, fatigue, and irritability. If any or all of these conditions capture a snapshot of your daily life, a lack of iron may be the root cause.
However, do not go out and buy an iron supplement on your own self-diagnosis. Visit your doctor for a blood test to check your levels and see if anemia is present. Getting too much iron in your diet also poses a risk, so it is best to verify the need with a doctor before starting a supplement for iron on your own.
Best Food Sources for Iron
Aside from taking an iron supplement (scroll down to the end of this post for shopping options on Amazon), there are many foods that are rich in this vital mineral that can be easily added to your diet to get your daily dose of this nutrient. Some of the most popular and rich sources of iron include:
While not as high in content as the above list, you can also get a decent amount of iron from pork, lamb, and shellfish.
Not all sources of iron are created equal, however. The easiest for your body to absorb is through lean meat or fish, whole fruits, vegetables, and grains are tougher in terms of absorption. To get the most out of your diet, mix some fish, lean meat, or poultry along with leafy greens or beans in a meal. This combination of proteins and carbohydrates can increase the absorption rate by up to three times. Foods that are high in Vitamin C (such as citrus fruits) can also lead to better absorption.
How Much Iron Should You Get Per Day?
The USDA recommends that an average adult should get 15 to 20 grams of iron per day up until the age of 50. At 50 years old and beyond, it is recommended to get around 8 to 10 grams per day. If you follow the diet advice provided above and include those food items in your meals, reaching that threshold shouldn’t be a problem. If you feel you need a little boost to get the recommended daily amount, the iron supplements shown below are available on Amazon.com.