jeudi 11 août 2011

In need of a little iron? Besoin d'un peu de fer?

Evrybody need a little bit of iron everyday. Actually, it is a very important element in our body; without it, our muscles cannot function. Since the hearth is a muscle, well, you get what i'm saying.

Why iron?
It's ironic that we both need to push and eat iron to develop muscles isn't it? But most of all, this element is essentiel to link the oxygen to our red cells. If our bloodstream was a highway and the O2 workers, then iron (Fe) would be the bus or the metro. (It is a bit more complicated than that, if you are interested with the details, just tweet me).
It is also implicated in the process where the body produces energy, or ATP. When we eat, we get macronutrients such as glucids, lipids and proteins. To be able to use such nutrients, we have to transform it into energy, such as ATP, in order to move, breathe and think. It is put in a simple form but, there, you have it.
Fe is also important for other processes, but i will not go into those today.

Too much or too little?
When you have a normal lifestyle and a normal eating habit, then it is very plausible that you have exactly the right amount of iron in your diet. No need to take supplements. However, women in general and pregnant women specifically are more at risk than other people. Also, if you decide to become vegetarian, i suggest you get a little bit of information about how to have a balanced diet, otherwise you might get too little iron as well.
However, recent (but criticised) studies suggest that too much iron might be the cause for certain illenesses, such as cardiovascular problems. Therefore, pharmacists are cautious about suggesting Fe supplements, and unless it is prescribed by a doctor, it is not necessary.

Where to get iron?
Iron is present in many type of food, but it is not always easy to absorb. There is two different type or iron: heme and non-heme. The body can absorb the heme type better thant its counterpart (25% versus 5%). Meat in general contains both type of iron. Dry fruits, molasse, whole grains, beans, green vegetables, and other are a source of non-heme iron. The best heme source is canned clams and tofu for non-heme iron.
But, can we boost it absorbtion rate you ask? But of course. You need to take in some vitamin C and it should do the trick. You can also mix the two types of iron, they like being together, or add some proteins. Be careful though, some things (such as coffee, tea, spinach, cocoa, peanut butter, soya and red wine) can lower your absorbtion, since they contain either phenols, phytates or vegetal proteins.

Iron is necessary, vital, especially if you are an athlete. Have a balanced diet and you will be fine.
Fun fact: if you are a athlete, while you train you increase your level of plasma, thus reducing the proportion of red cells in the blood. It is the athlete's anemia. But do not worry, it will not affect your performances!


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