Recognized by the World Health Organization as the most common chronic disease of our species, iron-deficiency harms two billion people worldwide and kills as many as 4,000 Americans a year. Without enough iron, our bodies don’t get enough oxygen, which leads to headaches, vertigo, drowsiness, fatigue, gastrointestinal distress, rapid heartbeat or palpitation. For women and children especially, the problem is acquiring enough iron to ward off anemia. In their menstruating years, women require double the iron of men, up to 2 milligrams a day. Women need to compensate for the fact that iron levels drop significantly during heavy periods and pregnancy.
Generally speaking, vegetarians have lower iron stores than meat-eaters. While iron obtained through the consumption of animal products is more accessible to the body, for iron one can scarcely do better than vegetables and beans and whole wheat, the staples of almost all meatless diets. Also note that certain foods enhance the bioavailability of iron. Eating vitamin C-rich foods alongside iron-rich foods greatly enhances the iron absorbed by the body.
If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of iron deficiency, take the guesswork out of it and get tested by your doctor.
Great sources of iron include:
Animal-based products, like kidney, liver, beef, duck, and lamb