When Tony was in high school he was an unhappy, overweight young man. While in his junior year of high school he made the life changing decision to research nutrition and exercise. He designed a diet and exercise program and in less than a year he lost 85 pounds. Here he is 5 years later, lean and fit, and ready to embark on a career that he hopes will inspire and educate others.
Oh, and he's engaged to a beautiful, compassionate and wonderful nurse. I am blessed and I thank God every day for guiding Tony along this path.
Tony still has a few hurdles to leap - before he can become licensed, he has to complete a Dietetic Internship. Right now he's applying for several. The selection process is highly competitive and less than 50% of the applicants get placed each year. He won't find out anything until April. In the meantime, he's studying so he can take the DTR exam sometime in the coming weeks. "Dietetic Technicians - Registered" would be another skill he can add to his resume and will hopefully help him find some work in his field while he is completing an internship. He has a lot on his plate but he's confident and focused.
He is also working with The Visual Veggies Software company. He has partnered with them to test their DTR Exam preparation software. He will be using their program to study for his DTR exam and will then write an unbiased review on the software. I think it's an excellent opportunity for him and I know he will give his fair and honest opinion.
The folks over at Visual Veggies asked him to write a couple of blog posts so they could see his work. I'm going to share one with you today......
Can Iron Give You More Energy?
One of the most common complaints I hear is that “I have no energy”. Most people attribute this to long work hours, lack of sleep, and/or extracurricular activities. The problem, however, may be related mostly to ones diet. Many dietary deficiencies can cause someone to feel that he/she has “no energy”, but the deficiency I will be talking about today is iron deficiency.
What Is The Role Of Iron In The Body?
The primary role of iron is to help make the protein hemoglobin, which is responsible for the delivery of oxygen to the tissues of the body and removal of carbon dioxide. Without iron hemoglobin cannot be made and, therefore, the exchange of these two gasses cannot occur. When oxygen transport becomes inhibited, because dietary iron is lacking, it can cause people to feel fatigued, short of breath, dizzy, have frequent headaches, and have many other symptoms.
I'm sure most people would say that oxygen is important. Like really important. So its easy to see why iron is essential for our bodies.
Sources of Iron
The best sources of iron are meat (beef and lamb), chicken liver, seafood (especially clams and oysters), pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans and lentils, whole grain products, tofu, and dark chocolate (We finally have an excuse to eat chocolate).
I should note that iron from meat, chicken, and seafood is absorbed better than iron from other sources, but that's a topic for another time.
How Much Iron Do I Need?
The amount of iron that each individual needs changes throughout life depending on age, medical conditions, pregnancy, and other factors. The chart below sums up how much iron is needed by most individuals very well.
**Credit for the chart: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/
Certain foods and substances do inhibit the absorption of iron when consumed with iron containing foods and supplements. Calcium, wine, coffee, and tea have all been shown to inhibit the absorption of iron1. Not all the iron you consume with these substances will be negated, but enough absorption will be inhibited to make a difference in the long run. It may be beneficial to plan your iron containing meals around your morning coffee, afternoon tea, and/or evening glass of wine (or two).
A recent study indicated that as many as 10 million Americans are iron deficient and that 5 million of those people have iron deficiency anemia (a very severe form of iron deficiency)2. So if you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency it could be worth your time to see your doctor to have your iron status tested.
Do I Need An Iron Supplement?
Most people without iron deficiency anemia will not need an iron supplement to keep their iron status within normal ranges. This can be done by including a variety of iron containing foods in your diet. Consuming iron supplements has been indicated to cause a great deal of GI complications so the consumption of an iron supplement should be supervised by a doctor and/or dietitian.
1. Hurrell R, Egli I. Iron bioavailability and dietary reference values. Am J ClinNutr 91: 1461S–1467S, 2010.
2. Miller JL. Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 2013;3(7):a011866. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a011866.