Iron is an essential mineral for our health, mainly because of its role in enabling the transport oxygen throughout the body.
Why do we need iron?
Iron is an essential component of haemoglobin, a type of protein that makes up red blood cells which is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in our body. In fact, over half of the iron in our bodies is stored in haemoglobin. Iron is also an important nutrient for the health of hair, skin and nails. Pregnant women need to make sure they get the recommended iron intake because iron plays a part in a baby’s growth and development.
How much iron do I need and how do I know if I’m not getting enough?
The amount of iron we need varies depending on our age and gender. According to the NHS:
- Men over 18 yrs old need 8.7 mg a day
- Women between 18-50 yrs old need 14.8 mg a day
- Women over 50 yrs old need 8.7 mg a day
Iron deficiency (also called iron deficiency anaemia) usually appears due to a condition that involves blood loss. Women who have heavy periods or are pregnant are also susceptible of being deficient.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia can include:
- Feeling tired and having no energy
- Experiencing a shortness of breath when doing minimum physical effort (such as climbing a flight of stairs)
- Heart palpitations
If you suspect you might have a deficiency, speak to your doctor and they can request blood tests to confirm this.
Foods rich in iron
To make sure you get enough iron, eat more:
- Pulses like beans and lentils
- Wholegrains like brown rice
- Dried fruit like dried apricots
- Dark green leafy veg like kale, watercress
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Learn more about vitamins and minerals by exploring our nutrition section. Eating Birds Eye frozen veg is a great way to have a healthy, balanced diet all year round and get all the nutrients you need.