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Are you getting enough iron (or too much)?

Published 2 years ago at 19 Mar 2020 by Alexandra Soare

Whenever you are a banker of Braavos or a normal human being, you should always take care of your iron bank. After all, who do you think will be helping you distributing oxygen in your body?

Most articles on iron focus on what happens when you have too little iron, but I will start first by showing you what happens when you have too much iron. Follow me on this alternative journey.

Why no supplements are better?

Since we are in the Game of Thrones references, if you are a fan of the show, you have seen iron under two forms: As the metal part of the blades or.. as blood. Yes, because iron is a component of hemoglobin and the reason why our blood cells are red.

What happens when you have too much iron? The same chemical reaction that turns an old blade rusty can occur with the iron in your blood vessels. Which doesn´t sound like a good idea if it happens inside your body. In the process, iron releases free radicals that are linked to aging, cancer, and heart disease. While your body has a good defense system of antioxidants, too many free radicals can unbalance it.

That´s why, unless your doctor prescribed you, you shouldn´t supplement it.

The experiment with bacterias

The second reason why you shouldn´t have too much iron has to do with the bacteria & iron combo! So stay with me :)

When we get sick, iron helps our immune system. It actives lymphocytes and gets the show rolling. But standing in the shadow, waiting, the bacterias want also a piece of it. They need iron to replicate. There is a whole chapter of the immune response which consists of cutting the availability of iron to bacterias. As you can see iron balance is very important.

The quantity

The focus on the first part was to not "overdose" with iron. In order to keep the right balance, we should make sure also that we don´t "underdose" it.  Having too little iron will make oxygen distribution inefficiently.

Symptoms are:

  •     Fatigue
  •     Weakness
  •     Dizziness
  •     Headache
  •     Inflamed tongue

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and the leading cause of anemia in the United States. Here is how you can integrate iron in practical ways into your day to day. 

For healthy men 19-50 years old the recommended dose is 8mg/day.
For healthy women 19-50 years old the dose is higher 18mg/day.

Iron food sources for a week

How much iron do you find in:

  • spinach (100g = 2,7mg of iron)
  • pumpkin seeds (100g = 9mg of iron)
  • chicken breast (100g = 1,3mg of iron)
  • lentils (100g = 3,3mg of iron)
  • tofu (100g = 2,7mg of iron)
  • milk (100g = 0,1mg of iron)
  • dark chocolate (100g = 10,5mg of iron)
  • shellfish (100g = 3mg of iron)

The quality

There are two types of iron: heme (most available in meat) and nonheme (most available in plants).

The one in the meat has the advantage of being much easily metabolized but at the same time, it doesn´t take into account the storage already present. Therefore you might get more than you need and more free radicals might be produced.

The nonheme type, in general, is more difficult to metabolize. But there is an advantage. This type of iron doesn´t get absorbed if there is too much already stored in the body. This means you will never "overdose".

In conclusion, the best option would be to choose plants as your main source of iron. In order to get the most out of them, combine them with
vitamin C-rich foods, such as fruit and fruit juices. They increase iron absorption.


Vegan iron sources for a week

How much iron do you find in:

  • white beans (100g = 2,4mg of iron)
  • broccoli (100g = 0,6mg of iron)
  • beets (100g = 0,8mg of iron)
  • banana (100g = 0,3mg of iron)
  • apple (100g = 0,1mg of iron)
  • oatmeal (100g = 6mg of iron)

Notice vegans!

Stock up with pumpkin, sesame, hemp and flaxseeds supplies! These seeds are the richest in iron, containing around 1.2–4.2 mg per two tablespoons!

Before you go, save this article or share it with your friends! Protect the iron bank!

Here at the end is a picture of me in Napoli. Because we are in the Game of Thrones theme, what happened in this Castel inspired the Red Wedding scene!

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