Many women, including myself and some clients I’ve trained have shown to have low iron levels. So what does this mean for the female body and how can we make sure we are preventing levels getting low and having adverse effects on our day to day life?
This is a topic I am particularly interested in and want to share as I was told a few years back that my iron levels were low following blood tests. This got me researching and thinking more about the types of food I was consuming.
Did you know that what you eat has a direct response on how you feel in your body? Crazy right! Not eating a balanced diet can have you feeling sluggish, more susceptible to illnesses and diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, breathing problems and trouble sleeping. In particular a diet deficient in iron can leave you feeling:
A shortness of breath
Cause brittle nails
So why is it more common for women to become low in iron?
Simply because of the blood loss they have during menstruation, particularly if you have heavy periods. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood. When women lose too much blood during their menstrual cycle, they may not be able to replace the iron fast enough, leading to low levels over time.
What we can do to sustain the right iron levels is to keep to a healthy balanced lifestyle of eating, ensuring that we are consuming produce that are rich in iron. Here are the main foods you should focus on:
Red meat such as beef, lamb,pork and venison and organ meats to be limited to 1-2 servings per week
Seafood e.g. shellfish (oysters)
Beans such as red kidney beans, edamame beans and chickpeas
Wholegrains and fortified cereals - e.g. Weetabix, multigrain cheerios, bran flakes, fruit and fibre to name a few
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Broccoli, kale
Dried fruit - Apricots
To enhance the absorption of iron these foods should be consumed with a source of vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, peppers or tomatoes.
The NHS recommends that women aged between 19 - 49 should consume 14.8mg/day of iron and women 50+ should consume 8.7mg/day.
*If you are at all concerned about your iron levels or have any symptoms you are worried about ensure to seek advice from your GP. A personal trainer cannot diagnose or treat but only give guidance to the best of their knowledge, any further guidance should be seeked from a GP or registered Dietician.