Food and Mood: Iron

Food and Mood: Iron

Whenever Popeye or his friends were in danger, the grizzled sailor would simply pop open a can of spinach and gain both a passion for fighting, and incredible strength. In those days, spinach was promoted as a high source of iron, which was linked to physical strength and a “can-do” attitude. After all, iron is certainly one of the “strongest” parts of our nutritional needs. Inexoriably linked with heavy metals and great feats of engineering, iron is one of the key components of the human diet, and a great source of many benefits.

What you may not know is that iron can actually effect your diet. An iron deficiency can lead to:

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Hair loss

  • Brittle nails

Believe it or not, it's actually easier to be iron deficient than you might imagine for some groups. Because the most readily available, and absorbable, sources of iron come from animal meat, it's easy for vegetarians and those who are shy about meat eating to become iron deficient. It can also happen to those who may be on a diet that focuses on weight loss through salads and the avoidance of chicken and red meat entirely. While you can still get iron from seafood, it's always a good idea to make sure that you aren't too short on this vital mineral.

How Iron Helps

Iron's prominence in our cells is no coincidence. It's an essential part of our immune systems, and it helps us our blood to stay at the proper consistency. Low iron levels can lead to a condition known as anemia, which is a decrease in the amount of red blood cells in the body. Whenever someone suffers from anemia, they have a greatly increased risk of bleeding, which can get very dangerous when internal bleeding comes into play.

On the mental side of the equation, iron deficiency can make you feel sluggish and hurt your ability to stay alert. This can effect your mood by making you perform poorly at your job, or by hurting your ability to effectively communicate with others. When you feel tired all day, and just can't seem to get anything right, it's a short trip to sour moods. That's why you may want to consider increasing your iron in take if you're suffering from low energy levels.

What are Some Great Sources of Iron?

  • Shrimp.
    Easy to eat for both lunch and dinner, many stores sell ready-to-eat frozen shrimp that can be quickly defrosted and added to salad, tacos, pasta dishes, stir fries, and even pizza.

  • Chicken
    Always a favorite, and usually the most inexpensive meat that you can buy. Dark, skinless meat will be one of your healthier options. Chicken is also high in potassium, another vital nutrient for the body and its nervous system.

  • Turkey.
    Similar to chicken, turkey is more well regarded for its leanness.

  • Egg yolks.
    Extremely inexpensive and high in protein, egg yolks are a great source of iron. Many choose to opt out of the yolk entirely and go for the whites only, but you may not want to exclude them from your diet just yet.


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