Iron is essential for the function of many proteins in the body, including the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Symptoms of low iron levels (anaemia) include tiredness, pallor, shortness of breath, fatigue and irritability, decreased general health and well being. Iron deficiency is thought to impair psychomotor development and cognitive function in infants, reduce work performance in adults and increase low birth rate, prematurity and perinatal mortality in pregnancy.
Signs of lack of iron include: paleness of skin, tongue, lower inner eye lids and nail beds; a sore mouth, unusual hair loss, dry hair and skin, menorrhagia, fatigue, reduced stamina, headaches, dizziness, decreased appetite, reduced immunity, irritability.
Iron deficiency may be a result of blood loss (including heavy menstruation), pregnancy and lactation or being vegetarian or vegan.
Non meat sources of iron include:
Whole grains: wheat, oats, brown rice.
Legumes: lima, aduki, kidney beans.
Dark Green leafy vegetables: cooked spinach or kale, all seaweeds.
Dried fruit: apricots, raisins, prunes.
Herbal teas to increase iron levels:
Avena sativa – Oat straw
Medicago sativa – Alfalfa
Urtica dioica – Stinging Nettle
Withania somnifera – Withania