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.
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.
Table of Contents
- Good Sources of Iron
- 8 Benefits of Iron Supplements
- 5 Recommendations For Iron Supplements
- Final Thoughts
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. 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.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
100 Tablets - Highly Absorbable Iron - Gentle on Your Stomach - Cardiovascular Support - Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Kosher - 100 Servings
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.
25 mg - Optimal Absorption - Support Red Blood Cell Formation - Fight Fatigue and Other Symptoms of Iron Deficiency - NSF Certified for Sport - Gluten-Free - 60 Capsules
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.
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.
Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com
|||^||NCBI: Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease|
|||^||Medical News Today: Everything you need to know about iron|
|||^||UCSF Health: Hemoglobin and Functions of Iron|
|||^||Wiley Online Library: The influence of iron deficiency on the functioning of skeletal muscles: experimental evidence and clinical implications|
|||^||HealthLine: What Causes Random Bruising?|
|||^||Dovepress: Iron deficiency and cognitive functions|
|||^||African Health Sciences: Assessment of subjective sleep quality in iron deficiency anemia|
|||^||NCBI: Iron and immunity: immunological consequences of iron deficiency and overload|