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Plant Iron vs Animal Iron!

Iron is a mineral that's necessary for life. Iron plays a key role in the making of red blood cells, which carry oxygen. You can get iron from food and from supplements. If you don't have enough iron, you may develop anemia, a low level of red blood cells.


There are two different types of iron! There's a plant based iron called Non-heme iron. Then there's the animal based iron called Heme iron. The main difference between the two is that heme iron is absorbed faster than non-heme iron. Which may seem good, but in reality can cause more damage than you think. Having too much iron can lead to heart attacks and it can harm the lining of the blood vessels. But this only happens if you mainly rely on meat for your iron. Always make sure there's a healthy in between so you don't have too much.


The second big difference is that absorption of heme iron is not regulated, while plant iron absorption is. If your body needs more iron, it absorbs more from plants. If you don't need more iron, it absorbs less plant iron. However, it will keep on absorbing heme iron, even reaching dangerous levels.


While non-heme iron is not as absorbable as heme, it can still be absorbed and contribute to overall wellness, especially if you refrain from drinking beverages like coffee, tea and wine, for they reduce iron absorption.


Some of the best sources of iron are found in plant-based foods like lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, apricots, figs, spinach, silver-beet and broccoli. Additionally, you can improve the absorption of iron in your system by eating more vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, kiwis and leafy green vegetables.


Another way of getting iron is through iron supplements. Iron supplements are most often used for certain types of anemia. Anemia can cause fatigue and other symptoms. Those who may be at risk for iron deficiency include preterm infants, young children, teenage girls, and pregnant women, as well as people with certain health conditions including chronic heart failure, Crohn's disease, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis. Iron supplements are commonly recommended for women who are pregnant or of childbearing age to help prevent anemia.


Iron overdose is a common cause of poisoning in children. It can be fatal. Signs of an iron overdose include severe vomiting and diarrhea, stomach cramps, pale or bluish skin and fingernails, and weakness. Treat these signs as a medical emergency. Call poison control and get medical help immediately.


Friendly reminder that if you do decide to take iron supplements, please ask your doctor prior to taking them!

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Leah  Buckbee

CMA, LMT, MMA

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