Have you had your iron levels checked? Women especially need to be careful to ensure their diet contains sufficient levels, as deficiency can be dangerous.
What Does Iron Do?
As part of hemoglobin, iron plays an important role in the transport of oxygen around the body from the lungs to the other organs. It is also part of the process to produce new blood cells within the body and helps to remove carbon dioxide from the organs.
As well as these important functions, it helps to convert blood sugar to energy and is essential for the production of enzymes within the digestive system. Iron also plays an important role in the immune system and the recovery process after illness or strenuous exercise.
Food Sources of Iron
Most red meats are very good sources of iron particularly beef and lamb. However, the best meat to boost your supply is liver. A 100g serving of liver will provide over 100% of your recommended daily amount of the important dietary nutrient.
Mollusks are another great source of iron, with even higher concentrations than liver. You have a choice of several tasty mollusks, including:
Animals are not the only good sources of iron. Plenty of dark leafy vegetables contain good quantities of this important element. Spinach is the best, with 100g providing 20% of your daily value. Swiss chard, turnip greens and kale are other vegetables that can help to boost your iron levels.
Another source that is easy to overlook is dark chocolate. Nuts and pumpkin seeds are also great sources of iron, and make tasty snacks. You can use these to beat your chocolate cravings!
Problems Associated with Iron Intake
One of the main symptoms of iron deficiency is anaemia. This occurs when the stores of iron in the body deplete and it is no longer possible to maintain haemoglobin levels in the blood. This particularly affects children and pre-menopausal women. The common symptoms of anaemia include:
- Hair loss
In extreme cases, deficiency can be fatal so it is important to ensure you consume sufficient quantities of this essential nutrient. Usually though, an increase in iron intake will restore your iron levels to normal.
Iron overdose is also potentially fatal, and often the first symptoms are stomach ulcers, followed by nausea and vomiting. The pain can then abate before the iron passes into the internal organs, particularly the brain and liver.
Iron is an extremely important nutrient that plays an important role within your body. Avoid the risk of anaemia and deficiency by making sure you eat plenty of the great iron-rich foods. This will keep your body in top shape and you will certainly feel better for it.
Have you ever had your levels checked? How were they?
Chromium is an important mineral that you've probably not paid much attention to, but with its links to glucose – it’s crucial.
What Does Chromium Do?
The main use within your body is to help metabolise fats and carbohydrates in the digestive system. It boosts fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are vital for healthy brain function. Chromium is also involved in the metabolism of insulin, and scientists have found links between low levels of chromium in the blood and type 2 diabetes. Low levels of chromium are also associated with several factors for cardiovascular disease.
People with chromium deficiency have limited glucose tolerance, and you often find it in people with type 2 diabetes. This is particularly common in older people or infants with protein-calorie malfunction. Supplements can help to manage these conditions, but they are not a substitute for other forms of treatment.
Fortunately, it is difficult to overdose in chromium due to the low absorption and high excretion rates.
Food Sources of Chromium
Out of all the different sources of chromium, the best is undoubtedly brewer’s yeast. However, foods made from yeast, such as vegemite and marmite, are very processed – and not exactly Paleo!
Certain fruit and vegetables are also high in chromium. These include:
- Green capsicum (bell peppers)
- Black peppers
In general, foods that have high concentrations of simple sugars, such as sucrose and fructose, are usually low in chromium.
Problems with Chromium Intake
As low chromium levels link to diabetes, it is important for any diabetics following the paleo diet to ensure they have a sufficiently high intake. If you are concerned about your chromium intake, you can improve the absorption rate on the body by consuming vitamin C and vitamin B3 (niacin). High consumption of simple sugars will increase the excretion rate from the body – so it’s great that a Paleo diet is naturally low in sugars.
Infection, exercise and stress can all reduce levels of chromium in the body and potentially lead to deficiency. When this happens, the body is unable to use glucose efficiently to meet all its energy requirements and more glucose is required.
Have you ever had your blood levels tested?