To recap let’s review the difference between a vitamin and mineral. A vitamin is any compound that contains carbon and therefore is organic. There are two classes of vitamins…fat soluble A, D, E and K or water soluble, B and C.
Minerals on the other hand do not contain carbon and are what we call inorganic. There are macro- minerals and micro-minerals. Macro-minerals are calcium, chloride, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Micro-minerals are: chromium, iron, copper, zinc, iodine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and iron.
There are many factors that can decrease the absorption of vitamins and minerals which include: alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics, stress, corticosteroids, aspirin, diuretics, oral contraceptives, sugar and tobacco. Therefore if your lifestyle includes any of these factors and you are not well there could be a good chance that you are not absorbing your essential nutrients. You will learn over the next few weeks the critical affect that each of the vitamins and mineral have over the health of your body.
This week we will be discussing Iron
Iron is found in our bodies mostly in hemoglobin (the iron-containing substance in red blood cells that transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body). Some is also stored in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow.
What it Does:
- Needed to form hemoglobin which carries oxygen throughout the body
- Needed by enzymes for protein metabolism
- Needed to convert beta-carotene to retinol (vitamin A)
- Beneficial for the respiratory and immune systems
- Helps prevent cardiovascular disease
Absorbing and Utilizing Iron:
- Iron from plant foods has a significantly lower absorption rate than iron from animals. It’s best to eat plant and animal sources of iron together.
- Vitamin C, copper, cobalt, and manganese increase absorption of iron.
- Adequate hydrochloric acid in the stomach increases absorption of iron. BEWARE OF ANTACIDS!
Found In: clams, oysters, tofu, shrimp, beef, potato skins, peas, lentils, mushrooms
It’s important to mention that iron can produce toxicity in high doses, particularly with the intake of supplements rather than iron rich foods. Therefore, it is best not to supplement with iron unless you know for sure that you have low levels based upon lab testing.
Nutrition & Wellness Specialist
Resource: The Power of Nutrient Dense Food by Pattie Weller, C.C.N
Photo: Thank you to http://petersmeats.com.au/images/beef-recipes.jpg