A Quick Break to Pump Some Iron

I’m not sure if it’s stress, or the consistently rainy weather, or aliens discretely probing my brain while I sleep, but lately I just haven’t felt like being all that inventive in the kitchen.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t just affect you darling followers of my blog! It also means that I am probably not eating as well as I should be (scratch that – definitely not).  That knowledge was the motivation behind my Green Inspiration post, but I am ashamed to say I have yet to try any of the recipes I found.

One of the nutrients I think I may be lacking in is Iron.  Women aged 18 to 50 are supposed to consume 18 mg of Iron per day; while that isn’t too difficult to achieve on a Vegan diet, if you’re like me you may need to plan a little bit.

The trouble with Iron is that your body can only absorb a small amount of what you actually consume – and it’s even harder to absorb from plant-based sources than from animal.   Obviously, the nutritional facts on a package are handy (keep in mind they are based on a 2000 calorie diet), but absorption rates vary from food to food, and person to person.

One way to improve your absorption is to consume Iron along with Vitamin C.   It has something to do with non-heme Iron (the kind in plant foods) binding to the Vitamin C and hitching a ride to the intestine.  Livestrong.com has an article, and I think they are a reliable source.  One significant point they add (which I have also come across in other sources) is that consumption of tea and coffee can decrease absorption.

All this is sort of an overview of what I have been learning which, along with some digging into how much Iron certain foods contain, has led me to believe I may be a tad deficient (aka an eensy bit anemic).  Contributing to this is the fact that last time I tried to donate blood, they turned me away because my Iron was too low.  At least until I figure out some diet tweaks, I decided a supplement is the way to go.  I have no desire to supplement what I don’t have to (all I take right now is B12), but I also have no desire to become anemic!

My cousin is a pharmacist (lucky me – free supplement advice!), so I spoke to her about my concern.  She told me that Iron supplements are sold in three different forms (with a colour corresponding to each).  The one she recommended I use is Iron Gluconate (also called Ferrous Gluconate, and it’s green), which is the iron salt of gluconic acid (yep, that means about as much to me as it probably does to most of you).   Of the three, the Gluconate has the lowest levels, which is as much as someone should need unless they are full-on anemic.  While it’s apparently difficult to overdose on Iron, it is possible, so you want to be taking just the smallest amount you require.

To give you an idea of the absorption ratio, Ferrous Glucinate says 300 mg on the bottle, but according to my cousin, your body will actually absorb only about 10 mg of that!  This article suggests that 150 mg of Vitamin C can increase absorption by up to 30%.   Man, the body is cool.

So there you have it!  I hope this saves you some wading through articles on Vegan nutrition.  Until this disinterest in food lets up, my posts may have a more nutritional slant to them – I hope you don’t mind!

Stay tuned for sometime next week: I plan to compile all of my information so far into some nifty charts and loosely-outlined weekly meal plans (assuming my weekend goes as intended).

GoudaGouda says: I stay healthy by only scattering the insides of my
stuffed toys all around the house, instead of swallowing them!  No Iron in there!

*Lou

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