“Iron deficiency affects nearly 2 billion people.
That’s one-third of the world’s population!”
There’s no doubt that iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in developed countries, with ladies being particularly at risk.
Iron is a key ingredient in producing hemoglobin, which helps red blood cells to deliver oxygen through your body. So yea, kind of pretty important.
The amount of daily iron intake you need is dependent on your age and gender. Generally, adult males need about 8mg to 11mg of iron a day, while ladies need around 15mg to 18mg (27mg if you’re preggers).
Well damn, how do you know if you’re low in iron?
Here are some possible ways to tell:
- You’re often tired
- You’re (unhealthily) pale
- Your heart pounds
- You’re out of breath easily
- You get headaches often
- You feel anxious for no reason
- You lose lots of hair
- You have brittle nails
- You’re pregnant
- You have heavy periods
- You’re vegetarian or vegan
If you think you’re low in iron, you should probably talk to your doctor about it.
If you know you’re low in iron, there is fortunately lots you can do about it!
I’m going to talk about 3 ways you can get more iron, but here’s a tldr; chart:
1. Eat more iron-rich foods
When we say iron-rich foods, most people think you gotta eat some beef wrapped in spinach sprinkled with blood. While that combo will definitely get you a buttload of iron, there are many other iron-rich options available!
Check out this chart I found on the Internets:
Here are a few delicious recipes to help you get started too! (click on the picture to link through)
Picking ingredients that are rich in iron is a great idea because there is such a big variety of foods that you can choose from. Usually you are getting a whole lotta bonus goodies with it as well.
For instance, if you eat a cup of cooked spinach, not only are you getting nearly 40% of your daily iron, you’re also getting a crap ton of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, copper, magnesium, fiber, zinc, phosphorus…….yea, you get the point.
The downside to this option, of course, is that you have to actually make it in a kitchen/ find it in a restaurant, and spend the time eating it. If you’re more of a give-me-my-iron-go-go-go type, read on!
2. Iron Supplements
Alright, my go-go-go friend. Here’s an option you don’t have to cook.
Iron supplements are great because it’s convenient — you buy a big jar of it and simply have to remember to take it daily. You can also opt for a multi-vitamin that includes iron; just make sure to read the nutrition label to see if you’re getting enough.
What I don’t like so much about iron supplements is that you have to take it with food. For some reason, taking iron on an empty stomach causes cramps or nausea for some people. I’m pretty nausea-prone, and when I took iron supplements, I had to eat my whole meal, leaving one or two bites, take the iron, and then top it up with some more food. So that wasn’t super convenient. I was also scared to take it at work or before driving, because I just never knew if I’d be sick or not!
3. Lucky Iron Fish
Now we’ll talk about that fish business. The Lucky Iron Fish is a pretty simple idea, it’s a chunk of iron (in a fun, fun fish shape).
All you have to do is pop it in some water with a few drops of lemon juice (or anything acidic), and boil for 10 minutes. The acidity helps to release the iron.
The amount of iron that the fishy releases is dependent on how long you boil it and how acidic the water is (longer/ more = more iron). Typically though, 2-7mg of iron is released with each use.
You can use the “iron fish water” for drinking, making coffee or tea, in cooking… you can even boil it in broth or other liquids! Just make sure that there is some acidity in there to help release the iron.
Another nice thing about the Lucky Iron Fish is that they’re also participating in that one-for-one type of thing. For every fish purchased, the company takes part of the proceeds to provide Iron Fishies for communities in need.
But really, does it work though? Here are some thoughts after about 4 months of getting my fish:
I started most days with around 750ml of “fish water” in my tea (just because that’s the size of my thermos), and that’s the amount I had for each day.
A month or so into using the Lucky Iron Fish, I did feel more energized and less “randomly tired”.
Headaches weren’t ever an issue for me, so I didn’t notice any changes. Hair loss is still crazy AF, but that might have more to do with shampooing it everyday.
I’m also Asian, so no paleness problem there. I do think that my cheeks are more often rosy though.
One of the bigger changes I have noticed is that my heart doesn’t pound heavily as often as it used to.
There are a few downsides to the Iron Fish though. First off, you have to actually boil the water, which is kind of a chore (I must be living some privileged life if boiling water is a chore hah…)
You have to always have some lemon juice or vinegar on hand, which isn’t usually a problem in my house.
Since the Fish is made of iron, it is prone to rust, just like a cast iron pan. This means that right after using it, you have to clean it and dry it right away. It’s not a big deal if it rusts; it’s not harmful and you just have to scrub it off, but this is the biggest downside for me.
If these things all sound tolerable to you, then I would definitely recommend you try one of these Iron Fishes out!
*This post contains affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you purchase something from it. However, all contents are my own honest opinions!