Two Best Friends - Iron and Vitamin C

citrus with iron

Trace minerals such as iron are something people don’t usually talk about, but why? Maybe it’s because as their definition implies, they are needed in such small quantities that they are perceived as not important. However, they are essential for normal development, function, and overall health. So what do I mean when I say ‘small quantities’? In this case I’m referring to 100 mg a day. In fact, all of the trace minerals combined make up less than 1% of the minerals in our body. As the old adage goes, good things come in small packages.

So why am I talking about one specific trace mineral this week? It’s because I want to give blood. Every time I try to donate blood the nurse pricks my finger with that strange little instrument and the results are always the same – my iron is too low. As a result, I became a woman on a mission looking forfoods that contain iron, which includes: meats and seafood, spinach and other dark leafy greens and kidney beans. However, after years of eating more of the above foods, I was only successful ONCE in giving blood in ten years! But recently I read about iron’s best friend…Vitamin C.

Vitamin C can increase iron absorption! So if you lack iron like me, try eating an orange after a roast beef dinner. This will help increase your chances of absorbing the maximum amount of iron from your meal. Now of course oranges tend to be everyone’s go to source for vitamin C, so what else can we eat to get that C boost? Try any of these for a change: bell peppers, papaya, kiwi fruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, grapefruit, snow peas, orange and grapefruit juices, and fruit juices with added vitamin C.

On a serious note – iron deficiency is the most common trace mineral deficiency worldwide. Symptoms include: fatigue on exertion, poor immune function, and anemia. The major functions of iron speak for themselves regarding how important this little trace mineral is. It helps out with respiration, immune function, cognitive development, and energy metabolism.

Take away message - trace minerals ARE important whether you’re trying to give blood or just maintain your overall health. So save a bit of room for an orange after that deep breath, since it’s always a bonus to absorb as many nutrients as possible from your meals.

Image of orange courtesy of wgyuri