Beating Anemia and Fatigue with an Iron-Rich Approach to Life
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Anemia affects 3.5 million Americans, making it the leading blood condition in the U.S. Often when we are tired we think we might have low iron. How can you tell if it is daily stress or a true iron deficiency? The only sure way to tell is with a blood test to determine your iron level.The signs that you may be anemic, in addition to fatigue, include an unusually rapid heartbeat or headache, especially during exercise. Dizziness and difficulty concentrating are other signs you may be anemic. Iron deficiency can be caused by several different different forms of anemia.
Iron is an essential mineral and handles the task of transporting oxygen to the muscles and organs. Iron also plays a role in the nervous system, as iron levels impact dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels. If the iron content of our blood falls, we may feel tired or have reduced energy and immune system becomes impaired.
Dietary Iron: Heme and Non-Heme
There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron sources come from animal foods (meat, fish and poultry), non-heme iron is found in non-meat foods such as beans, lentils, yeast leavened whole grain breads, dried fruits, broccoli, spinach and other leafy greens, strawberries, nuts and enriched pastas, rice and cereals. While our diets contain far more non-heme iron, this non-meat-based iron is not as readily absorbed by our body. Strict vegans who follow a diet completely free from any animal product (so no animal products whatsoever, including eggs and dairy) are most likely to have an iron deficiency, but lacto-vegetarians (who include eggs and diary in their diet) also have an increased risk of being iron deficient.
Healthy adults typically absorb about 10 to 15 percent of the dietary iron consumed each day. Current storage levels of iron have the greatest influence on our absorption—when our levels are low iron absorption increases and when the levels are high absorption decreases.
How Much Iron Is Right for Me?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for women 19 to 50 years of age is 18 milligrams (mg) per day, while men ages 19 and older and women 51 years and older have a requirement of eight mg per day. The higher RDA for women in their childbearing years is due to blood loss that occurs through the monthly menstrual cycle. Cooper Complete® With Iron Multivitamin and Cooper Complete Basic One with Iron both contain 18mg of iron and are recommended for women in their childbearing years who have a monthly cycle. Cooper Complete Elite Athlete also contains 18 mg iron and the iron plays an important role in recovery for athletes who exercise at extreme levels (at least five hours of exercise at 80 percent or higher heart rate per week). Individuals who have been told by their physician to take iron will also want to select one of these formulations.
Because iron is so important in our overall bodily function, the instinct might be to add iron to the routine. However, excessive iron intake can lead to toxicity and cause a host of serious medical problems, including congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease and cirrhosis. For this reason, please don’t take iron containing supplements as a “just in case” or preventive. When taking iron supplements, it’s important to have regular follow-ups with a physician so that blood testing can be completed to evaluate levels.
To learn more about Cooper Complete Vitamins and Supplements, click here.
Article provided by Cathy Sides, Director of Customer Relations, Cooper Concepts Inc.