Iron is an extremely important mineral in many vital functions in the body including oxygen transport, immune function and DNA production. It is also a key co factor (assistant) in the synthesis of neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain) including serotonin and dopamine.
Serotonin and dopamine which you may have heard of previously, can be thought of as your happy hormones. Dopamine specifically is the hormone associated with self rewards and recognition. For example, if you achieve a goal you have set yourself Dopamine is released to tell you you’ve done a great job and make you feel good about it. When this signal is not being released, it is likely that eventually you will lose interest in performing this activity. Serotonin is a mood regulator hormone which has a role in social behaviour, digestion, sleep and memory. So again without functioning optimally it may have a negative effect on these factors.
When iron deficiencies occur, the synthesis of these happy hormones will also not occur as they should. This will result with no reward system and a lower mood regulator which in time can lead to lose in motivation to do the normal tasks you usually enjoy, for example going for a run, cleaning the house or studying.
** ALWAYS get a blood test before making any changes or taking any supplements in relation to iron **
Red Meat Once a Week
Iron in animal based foods (haem iron) is much better absorbed than in plant based foods (non haem iron). I’ve found that introducing just 1 very small portion of organic red meat a week has definitely helped my energy and motivation levels.
Foods from the sea such as clams, mussels and prawns are a great source of iron and can be used as a protein source in many different dishes from pastas, stews or stir frys. I aim to include a source of seafood twice a week and another small fish once a week such as sardines which are also a good source of iron.
3. Greens With Lemon
A great way to increase your iron intake whilst eating non haem /plant based foods is to use a source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C increases iron absorption so get squeezing some lemon all over iron rich greens such as spinach and kale! Another option is to add a vitamin C rich food source such as tomatoes, brussel sprouts or red pepper.
Dried apricots appear to be the highest fruit source of iron so I’ve added them to my diet daily. Not only do they have a good iron content but they are also extremely high in fibre supporting detoxification and regulating blood sugar levels.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron and an easy way to up your intake daily by just simply grabbing a handful as a snack or my personal favourtite way is to use pumpkin seed butter. Put it on your toast, in your smoothies or mixed as a dressing!
If you can stomach it (I can’t quite yet!), then liver is an amazing source of iron with the highest absorption levels. As well as this it’s a high source of vitamin A so will contribute to healthy hair and skin. If you are like me and can’t quite stomach it as a dinner yet, making home made liver capsules is a great way to include it. Here’s how; https://empoweredsustenance.com/the-easiest-way-to-eat-liver-no-taste-no-fuss/