iron

iron

Functions
  • Central role in hemoglobin and red blood cells leading to effective O2 and CO2 transport
  • Energy production and metabolism enabling growth, development and physical work capacity
  • Needed for thyroperoxidase (TPO) activity and creation of T4 and T3 by thyroid
Source and function notes Heme iron (from animal tissue) is best source as non-Heme iron from vegetable sources is not very absorbable
Vegetable sources Kelp; parsley; Jerusalem artichoke; beet greens; Swiss chard; dandelion greens; green peas; artichoke; broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus
Fruit sources Dried prunes, Raisins, Dates, Currants, Strawberries, Blackberries
Nut and seed sources Pumpkin and squash seeds, Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Walnut, Sesame seeds, Pecans, Peanuts, Ripe olives
Absorption factors
  • Absorption inhibited by phytic acid, polyphenolic compounds, Calcium, partially digested proteins, antacid use
    • Examples of foods high in phytic acid are nuts like walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts
    • Reduce phytic acid in foods by soaking
    • Examples of Polyphenolic foods include herbs like peppermint, oregano and thyme, black and green tea, coffee, red wine, cocoa
    • Avoid inhibiting foods for 2 hours before and after an iron rich meal or keep use to a minimum and off-set inhibiting effects with ascorbic acid
  • Absorption enhanced by ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), meat, cysteine
    • Ascorbic acid may off-set small amounts iron inhibiting foods
Spice and herb sources
Deficiency factors
  • Anemia
  • Excessive blood loss
  • Learning disabilities
  • Impaired immune function
  • Decreased energy levels and physical performance
  • Decreased thyroid metabolism
Toxicity and dangers

Adapted from:

Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

Bland, J., Costarella, L., Levin, B., Liska, D., Lukaczer, D., Schlitz, B., Schmidt, M., Lerman, R., Quinn, S., Jones, D. (2004). Clinical Nutrition: A Functional Approach, Second Edition. Gig Harbor, WA: The Institute for Functional Medicine.

Resources:

National Institute of Health Fact sheet on Iron

Resume of Penn State University study on polyphenolic foods and decreased iron absorbtion

Penn State study paper on polphenolic foods inhibitory action on iron absorbtion being offset by ascorbic acid

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