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Last Updated on February 23, 2021

8 Benefits of Iron Supplements (With Sources Recommendations)

8 Benefits of Iron Supplements (With Sources Recommendations)

Iron is a mineral that many people hear a lot and plays a critical role in our bodies. A shortage of iron in our blood can lead to serious health problems including anemia. Iron is essentially the vitamin that is used to move oxygen in the blood and perform other processes in the body.

However, it’s also a vitamin that a lot of Americans lack—roughly 10 million have low iron levels, and 5 million of those have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia.[1]

Fortunately, with iron being such an essential vitamin, there are plenty of foods out there that contain iron. Furthermore, you can look to iron supplements which can provide you with a significant boost in iron as well.

Good Sources of Iron

According to Medical News Today, men only need 8 mg of iron per day while women need between 8 and 18 mg.[2] It doesn’t sound like a lot, especially when you consider the various foods that are available that are high in iron. Some particular foods can even provide you with excess iron you’ll need for the day in one sitting.

Some food options include:

  • Canned clams – 3 ounces provides 26 mg of iron.
  • Fortified cereal oats – 100 grams provides about 25 mg.
  • White beans – one cup gives 21 mg.
  • Dark chocolate (45-69% percent cacao) – a single bar gives 13 mg.
  • Pacific oysters (cooked) – 3 ounces gives roughly 8 mg.
  • Spinach (cooked) – one cup gives 6.5 mg.
  • Others include beef liver, boiled lentils or chickpeas, firm tofu, stewed tomatoes, lean ground beef, baked potato, and roasted cashews.

But while those are some good options, another big consideration is iron supplements. The benefit of consuming iron supplements is that they still provide you with your daily intake of iron while also covering other vitamins as well. Furthermore, it removes a lot of the guesswork of what you need to get your necessary iron intake for the day.

8 Benefits of Iron Supplements

Iron preserves many of our vital functions in our body, including things like general energy, focus, immune system, and body temperature regulation. And one of the best ways to ensure you enjoy these benefits is through the various supplements available.

Here are 8 key benefits of iron supplements and why you should consider taking them.

1. Energy

As mentioned above, iron is a good source of energy. Furthermore, a lack of energy can lead to you losing focus, becoming more irritable, and lacking stamina. You can avoid all of these things by taking iron supplements to boost the amount of iron in your body and consequently, improve your energy levels.

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2. Boost Hemoglobin

The core function of iron is to carry out oxygen through the blood. It does this by forming what’s called hemoglobin—a red blood cell protein.[3] Hemoglobin is crucial because the loss of blood can happen in many ways beyond mere injury. For example, women lose blood every month during menstrual cycles. It’s for this reason that anemia is more prominent in women as they naturally require more iron in their bodies due to the loss of blood.

3. Boost Athletic Performance

Another key role that iron performs is moving oxygen through your blood and keeping everything functional. A lack of iron will cause your muscles to strain and athletic performance to decline. Even if you’re not planning to run marathons or take on physically demanding tasks, iron does improve your endurance and, therefore, your muscles.

This is important because one of the most common links to anemia is muscle weakness.[4] Furthermore, because your muscles will be stronger, this will reduce the risk of having your tissues inflamed and cause pain through your body during exercising.

4. Reduce Bruising

Along the same lines as muscle weakness, people who bruise easily could also be suffering from low iron. Bruising happens when your internal clotting system isn’t working the way it’s intended. How this system works is thanks to the hemoglobin that affects the production and function of platelets—the cells that control blood-clotting in the first place.

If you’re someone that’s bruising often, an iron supplement can help a lot since it’ll give you the necessary iron intake you’ll need to stop it.[5]

5. Boost Concentration

I also mentioned before that iron can also affect cognitive function. A lack of iron can lead to a lack of focus as there is less oxygen that’s moving through your blood system and, therefore, your brain. You will also find a lack of iron affecting your attentiveness, too.

When taking iron supplements, research shows that our overall cognitive performance improves.[6]

6. Brain/Body Detox

Another angle that you can look at is the fact that iron enzymes—found in iron supplements—will allow the brain and body to neutralize potential toxins that our body creates. Furthermore, it can neutralize pollutants and other toxins that enter from outside, too. By taking an iron supplement, you’re essentially flushing your body of various toxins from your body and prevent them from entering.

7. Healthier Sleep

Research that was published in 2015 showed that there is a link between low iron levels and sleep issues like restless sleep, sleep apnea, and insomnia.[7] Of course, keeping your iron levels at a regular level or higher will aid significantly in your ability to sleep and to prevent those sleep conditions from occurring.

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8. Boost Immunity

The final benefit of iron supplements is that they can easily boost one’s immunity. We know already that they can flush out toxins, but iron can inadvertently fight off viruses and bad bacteria in a way.

The hemoglobin that’s formed by iron supplements also plays the role of sending oxygen to necessary parts of the body to fight diseases and infections. Things like damaged cells, tissues, and organs that are needed to fight off problems get a big boost from iron. This allows them to combat and even prevent diseases and infections long-term.[8]

5 Recommendations For Iron Supplements

Now that you know just how helpful iron supplements can be, we’ve made some suggestions for iron supplements that you should try out.

1. Natural Factors Easy Iron

    The first on our list is the Natural Factors Easy Iron. These already provide you with 20 mg of iron per tablet, making it ideal for both men and women to take.

    The selling point of this particular iron though is that it’s manufactured using a unique “Super Dispersion Technology”. What this means is that taking this supplement can mitigate some of the side effects that other iron supplements can cause, such as constipation. Paired up with the fact this is a fruit-flavored chewable tablet, this means you’ll get plenty of nutrient absorption from them.

    Click here to pick up this iron supplement.

    2. Now Foods, Double Strength

      Now Foods is our second option for iron supplements, and they make for a solid option, particularly their double strength iron supplements. There are two selling points for this iron supplement.

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      First, these iron supplements provide 36 mg per capsule which is more than enough for any person. Their regular is 18 mg usually. Second, the iron that’s used is Ferrochel Iron Bisglycinate. According to the company, this means this type of iron is clinically demonstrated as iron that will have superior absorption, and the body will tolerate it better since it’s gentle and non-constipating.

      Pick up Now Food’s Double Strength iron supplements here.

      3. Solgar, Chelated Iron

        Another consideration to get your iron supplements is from Solgar’s Chelated Iron. From the start, the company offers the most tablets at 100 per bottle (Now Foods offers 90 and Natural Factor offers 60). Furthermore, they’ve ensured their supplements are Non-GMO, gluten-free, wheat and dairy-free, and kosher.

        Beyond that, these iron supplements are still easy on the stomach and offer 25 mg per tablet. These are ideal for those looking to have more iron supplements in their medicine cabinet or those who are Vegan.

        Try out Solgar’s Chelated Iron here.

        4. Thorne Research, Iron Bisglycinate

          Thorne Research’s iron supplements are more focused on the athletic types due to the creation of the iron that the company made. Their iron is specifically geared towards athletes as the particular formation of red blood cells allows someone to perform better in sports. It’s for this reason why Thorne Research’s iron supplements are NSF Certified by Sport compared to other iron supplements.

          Beyond that, these supplements provide 25 mg of iron and are made from Iron Bisglycinate, making it easy for absorption, gentler on the stomach, and is non-constipation.

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          Purchase Thorne Research’s iron supplements here.

          5. Nature’s Bounty

            The last recommendation on our list of iron supplements is Nature’s Bounty. Each tablet provides you with 28 mg of iron, and like the others on this list is made of the same gentle iron for great absorption. The unique selling point about these particular tablets goes beyond their slightly higher dosage of iron. They also contain other vitamins such as Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12, and Vitamin C.

            Buy Nature’s Bounty’s iron supplements here.

            Final Thoughts

            Iron is an essential part of our bodies, and while there are many foods out there that provide us with good iron sources, iron supplements can sometimes be the cheaper and better alternative.

            Many iron supplements have various benefits and are a cut above other iron supplements on the market. I hope that you take the recommendations to heart and consider purchasing one of the supplements above as it removes the guesswork of whether you’ve taken in enough iron for the day.

            More About Iron Supplement

            Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

            Reference

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            Published on April 8, 2021

            6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

            6 Health Benefits of Beetroot Powder (And How To Choose A Good One)

            Beetroots are vegetables rich in nitrates, antioxidants, and polyphenol compounds that have a role in improved cardiovascular function and exercise performance.[1] However, beetroot juice has limitations with storage and taste preference, and so other more convenient forms have been investigated. One of these forms is beetroot powder.

            What Is Beetroot Powder?

            Beetroot powder is made by dehydrating or drying out thin slices of beetroot (to remove all the moisture) and then grinding them into a powder. If you don’t like the earthy taste of beetroot, then beetroot powder might be an alternative since it is more concentrated than fresh beetroot but with a relatively neutral taste. One fresh beetroot is the equivalent of approximately one teaspoon of beetroot powder.

            Powdered beetroot can be added to sauces, smoothies, pasta, gnocchi, curries, cakes, muffins, or anything you choose to add nutrients and color to. Watch out that your urine may change color too! Due to the natural sugars in beetroot, it can also be used as a natural sweetener. Beetroot powder is even used in natural cosmetics.

            Beetroot Powder VS. Other Beetroot Products

            One study looked at the total antioxidant potential, phenol compounds, sugars, and organic acids in beetroot juice, cooked beetroot, powder, and chips. They found higher amounts of total antioxidant potential and organic acids in the chips and powder compared with the juice and cooked beetroot.[2] However, it’s important to consider that it is a lot easier to take larger quantities of beetroot when powdered or juiced than just eating it and this means ingesting much more sugar.

            6 Health Benefits of Beetroot

            While beetroot may have potential health benefits, it’s not clear if these are temporary or have long-term effects. More research is needed to answer this question and what the optimal dose is. Most studies have focused on beetroot juice, with only a handful of studies investigating beetroot powder. There hasn’t been evidence so far to support the benefit of beetroot powder on blood flow.[3]

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            Despite that, beetroot contains several different compounds with different properties. Here are the six health benefits of beetroot powder.

            1. Beetroot Powder Is Rich in Nitrates

            Firstly, beetroot powder is rich in nitrates. Nitrates have important roles related to increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondrial efficiency, and strengthening of muscle contraction.[4] By causing relaxation of the smooth muscles that encircle arteries and veins, nitrate leads to the dilation of these blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. Nitrate medications are used for people with high blood pressure, angina, and heart disease to relax blood vessels, widening them to allow greater blood flow.[5]

            A meta-analysis that combined 22 different trials and analyzed the results together found that additional beetroot juice significantly decreased blood pressure.[6] However, there isn’t evidence to support the long-term effects.[7]

            2. Beetroot Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

            Secondly, beetroot contains antioxidant polyphenol compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. Antioxidants are molecules that have the ability to neutralize free radicals and protect against cell damage that can lead to chronic diseases. Eating a diet high in antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of chronic disease.[8] Different polyphenol compounds are different colors, that’s why you will often hear about eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables.

            3. Beetroot Has Anti-Cancer Effects

            Beetroot also contains betalains that have been found to have anti-cancer effects in cellular models in the laboratory.[9] Clinical trials are now needed to assess if there are potential anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and the nature of these effects. While the anti-cancer effects of beetroot in humans aren’t known yet, including them in your diet may help and is unlikely to risk harm.

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            4. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Vitamins C and Folate

            Beetroots are also a great source of vitamins C and B9 (folate). Vitamin C and folate have many important roles in our bodies. Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, which acts as a scaffold in the skin and ligaments. It is also has a role in wound healing and protein metabolism. Folic acid is vital for the production of healthy red blood cells, and cellular growth. Inadequate intake of vitamin C over a 3 month period can lead to scurvy, and smoking can further reduce the bioavailability.[10]

            5. Beetroot Contains Essential Minerals

            Beets also contain the minerals iron, manganese, and potassium. Iron has a vital role in the transportation of oxygen by healthy red blood cells. Over 40% of children worldwide have iron deficiency anemia and women of childbearing age are also at increased risk because of menstruation.[11] Potassium may actually prevent the harmful effects of eating excess salt (sodium chloride). Manganese has several roles including metabolism, bone formation, and the immune system. Beetroots are a great way of including all these micronutrients in your diet.

            6. Beetroot Powder Is a Great Source of Fiber

            Fiber is such an important component of our diet, with most of us needing to eat much more to reach the recommended daily amount of 30g. For every 10g of fiber you eat a day, you may decrease your long-term risk of bowel cancer.[12]

            Fibre also acts as a pre-biotic, providing food for the friendly micro-organisms in your gut called the microbiota. There are trillions of micro-organisms in your gut that are now known to play a key role in inflammation and both mental and physical health. Eating beetroots can help to increase your fiber intake and support a healthy gut community.

            It’s clear that for relatively few calories, beetroot contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, nitrates, and antioxidants. For these reasons, beetroot is labeled as a “nutraceutical” and supplementation has become increasingly popular.[13] While most studies have looked at the effects of beetroot on blood vessel dilation, there are still many unanswered questions about other potential benefits.

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            How to Choose a Beetroot Powder

            Like all other supplements, there is very little regulation. Therefore, it is very difficult to be sure exactly what is included in the supplement or assess the quality. My recommendations for choosing a supplement are to check for a product license and always buy from a reputable company.

            There are, however, no agreed benchmarks for quality or efficacy. How much and how often are also unknown at this time. Try to avoid powders that have added preservatives, sweeteners, or artificial flavorings. Consider whether an organic powder is worth the extra money to you. I would avoid powders that have added silica to avoid clumping. Some supplements now use 3rd party companies to verify the contents.

            There isn’t an agreed dose of nitrate or beetroot powder, so while some powders do contain nitrate content, it is difficult to know exactly what this means in practice. The higher the nitrate content, the more likely it is to have a beneficial effect on raised blood pressure. But if you don’t have high blood pressure, it’s difficult to know if more nitrate is beneficial.

            In summary, look for:

            • organic beetroot powder
            • tested for quality by a 3rd party company
            • is free from preservatives, sweeteners, and artificial flavorings
            • avoid powders containing silica
            • buy from a reputable company
            • look at the nitrate content

            How to Make Your Own Beetroot Powder

            First, wash, peel, and grate your beetroots by hand or using a food processor. Then, place them on a tray, spread them out, and cover them with parchment or grease-proof paper to protect them from direct sunlight.

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            Leave to dry until there is no moisture left and shake intermittently so that it dries evenly. When it snaps instead of bending and feels dry, it is ready for the next stage.

            The drying stage can take up to four days depending on the air temperature. To speed up the drying process, you can do this on low heat in a saucepan for 15 to 25 minutes or in the oven at no higher than 180 degrees Celsius or in a dehydrator. If you use the oven or on the hob, just be careful not to burn the beetroot.

            The final step is to grind the dried beetroot using a grinder. It can then be stored in an airtight container, avoiding sun-light for up to one year.

            Should You Try Beetroot Powder?

            Beetroot is a great vegetable that contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nitrates, and fiber. The nitrates present in beets may lower your blood pressure in the short-term, but the long-term effects are not yet known. More research is needed to know about other potential benefits such as the effect on cancer.

            So, while beetroot powder may have health benefits unless taken in excess, it is unlikely to have significant side effects. Large doses of beetroot, however, are associated with an increased risk of kidney stones.

            If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, taking beetroot supplements is best avoided as there isn’t sufficient safety information. Beetroots do also contain fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols or FODMAPS for short. These are types of carbohydrates that are hard to digest and can cause symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in some people. FODMAPS are thought to act as prebiotics, feeding the friendly micro-organisms that live in your gut (microbiota). So, for those people who can tolerate them, they are beneficial for a healthy gut.

            More Resources About Beetroot

            Featured photo credit: FOODISM360 via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] NCBI: Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate‐nitrite‐nitric oxide pathway
            [2] SpringerLink: Comparison of total antioxidant potential, and total phenolic, nitrate, sugar, and organic acid contents in beetroot juice, chips, powder, and cooked beetroot
            [3] Maastricht University: Effects of Beetroot Powder with or without L-Arginine on Postprandial Vascular Endothelial Function: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial with Abdominally Obese Men
            [4] PubMed.gov: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
            [5] PubMed.gov: Nutraceuticals with a clinically detectable blood pressure-lowering effect: a review of available randomized clinical trials and their meta-analyses
            [6] PubMed.gov: The Nitrate-Independent Blood Pressure-Lowering Effect of Beetroot Juice: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
            [7] PubMed.gov: Medium-term effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
            [8] NCCIH: Antioxidants: In-Depth
            [9] NCBI: Red Beetroot and Betalains as Cancer Chemopreventative Agents
            [10] Healthline: Beetroot 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
            [11] NCBI: The impact of maternal iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia on child’s health
            [12] Cancer Research UK: Does a high fibre diet reduce my risk of cancer?
            [13] PubMed.gov: The potential benefits of red beetroot supplementation in health and disease

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