Do you often feel tired and get ill more often than the people around you? If so it might be worth thinking about your iron levels.
Iron is found in every cell in our body and is an essential component in the creation of our blood as it makes up the protein haemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen to our organs and tissues.
It is an important part of immune function, building collagen and also a healthy nervous system.
As we are not able to produce it in our bodies ourselves we have to absorb it in the food we eat.
This either comes in the form of meat or plants. Therefore your diet is essential in making sure you have enough iron.
Animal iron is readily available for our body to absorb as the animal converted it, whilst plant iron needs to converted in the body in order to utilise it.
A few food sources that are iron rich are:
Lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs, raisins, Green leafy vegetables, beetroots
All meat products
The other important thing to consider when looking at iron is whether you have enough Vitamin C in your diet to help you absorb the iron that you take in.
If you don’t it will go to waste.
Green vegetables have a lot of vitamin C in them anyway so if you have a balanced diet chances are you will have enough vitamin C otherwise fresh fruit juices drunk alongside can help.
Additionally tannins in coffee and tea, phytates in wholegrain and some legumes can interfere with the absorption of iron from food so it is best to avoid these things around the time you take an iron supplement.
Whilst our diet is the first point of call to assess to make sure we are getting optimal amounts of iron there are good quality supplements on the market if you feel you need a boost.
Floradix is the most well known. A food derived iron tonic made of a concoction of herbs, vegetables and fruit. I have always been a great fan of it.
Recently though however I have started making my own iron tonics using raw ingredients from my kitchen and garden and you can do the same!
Wild Iron tonic recipe
100g yellow dock root
100g nettle leaf
50g dandelion leaf
50g dandelion root
water ( approximately 1 litre water which should be what you need to cover your herbs)
1. Cover your herbs with water
2. Bring your water to a boil and turn down to a medium-low simmer.
3. Simmer uncovered until the liquid is reduced by half. This should leave approximately 500ml.
4. Once cooled fill a small Kilmer jar with 5 tablespoons of molasses and 1 of honey.
Molasses is used as it is a great form of iron and honeys antibacterial qualities make it a good preserver and immune supporter.
5. Strain the reduced herb mixture, and add it to the molasses mixture.
6. Add a dash of brandy to preserve it (leave out the brandy if you are pregnant)
7. Shake to mix the molasses, honey, and herbal mix, and then pop it in the fridge.
Dosage: You can take up to 6 tablespoons a day or add it as a syrup over fruit and ice cream.
Ideal to use within 6 weeks.