Adequate iron in your blood is crucial to performing your best.
Iron in red blood cells helps transport oxygen to your muscles and inadequate levels is referred to as anemia.
A blood test for anemia is quite easy to do, and it may be worth it. One study found that 56% of those tested had low levels!
So, let's say you want to safeguard your iron levels. What should you know?
Anemia Through Iron Loss
Perhaps the strangest way (and most interesting) is known as Foot Strike Anemia. This is literally where you are damaging or destroying red blood cells during foot-strike. Clearly if this is something you're experiencing, the more you run, the more you're damaging these cells.
Ladies who are menstruating and losing blood may experience anemia from blood loss.
Anemia Through Low Iron Intake or Absorption
The above two examples are anemia through iron loss, however you can also become anemic through low iron intake or absorption.
Diets low in iron, such as a vegetarian or vegan diet, may have iron level issues simply from a low intake However, anemia has been shown to be just as common among meat eaters as well, and this can be from absorption issues.
People who drink a lot of tea or coffee with their meals may absorb less iron, since compounds in these beverages bind with iron. This also reduces the benefit of the drink, as well!
Absorption may also be compromised if you take antacids or have low stomach acidity, since retention is best at a higher acidity.
What You Need to Know About Intake
There are a number of methods of both increasing your intake and/or absorption of iron.
Simply eating more iron through beans, dark leafy green vegetables, beef, fish, chicken, etc is the easiest method of increasing your consumption of iron. Like mentioned above, avoiding tea or coffee with iron-rich meals or iron supplementation is beneficial. You can also assist iron absorption with vitamin C from an orange or orange juice or ascorbic acid supplementation with iron.
A clever and inexpensive method is to simply use a cast iron skillet when you cook. As crazy as it sounds, research shows that iron atoms from the pan move to the food (at least spaghetti and apple sauce in this case) and are available to the body upon consumption!
Finally, taking iron pills on an empty stomach can help absorption. Occasional people experience an upset stomach with iron supplementation, and if this is the case for yourself, you may want to take smaller amounts of iron during the day.
Below you'll find the recommended supplementation amounts.
Getting your levels tested is important before supplementing with iron, because levels that are too high can be dangerous. Having your blood drawn and just testing iron is very simple, however if you want something more comprehensive, InsideTracker is a great choice.
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