Why iron is an essential nutrient for vegans?
Iron is an essential nutrient for vegans because it helps to maintain a good health. Iron is a mineral that helps transport oxygen through the blood, which means that it helps keep the energy and the resistance.
It also helps prevent anemia, a condition in which the body does not have enough iron to produce red blood cells. Vegans have a higher risk of anemia because they do not consume iron-rich foods such as meat, fish and eggs.
Therefore, it is important for vegans to get enough iron from plant sources such as legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables.
The mission of the iron in the human body
Red blood cells contain iron, necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen throughout the body.
Although the red blood cells contain iron recycling, you are still producing a daily loss of this element, mainly through the skin and the intestines. Menstruation makes women also lose iron. For this reason, young women, they need a lot more iron than the older, men or postmenopausal women.
Iron deficiency When the body lacks enough iron to maintain the normal formation of red blood cells, anemia. It is a major public health problem and very extended.
But an excess of iron can also be harmful to you, because it causes the body to store an excessive amount. There is evidence to suggest that doing so increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and, possibly, of other chronic diseases.
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The body controlled to a certain extent the absorption of iron to prevent your storage decrease or increase too much. In other words, the storage of iron and the amount of iron intake are related.
However, it is interesting to note that the non-heme iron, which is present in the plant foods but only in animal flesh, it is considerably more susceptible to these checks and balances in which the heme iron.
Iron uptake by plants
Although the absorption of iron from plants varies in function of the needs, tends to be much lower than that of the flesh. The main cause is that the plant foods rich in iron tend to have a high content of phytic acid, commonly known as phytate, is a substance that fixed the iron and other elements.
As the phytic acid is a potent antioxidant and can reduce the risk of developing cancer, there is no doubt that it is not at all harmful. The goal is to eat in a way to minimize the impact of phytate on iron instead of trying to avoid it completely, which is impossible given its abundance in whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
For example, increasing the absorption of iron, and the reduction of the effects of phytate is achieved, including vitamin C-rich foods in a meal. The vitamin C can have consequences that are quite important.
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It has been shown that a small portion of a meal rich in vitamin C, such as a glass of orange juice or half a cup of cauliflower, you can increase up to four or six times the absorption of iron from plant foods.
In fact, instead of adding extra iron to your meals, low iron levels can improve from time to time only to increase the intake of vitamin C.
In addition, the fermentation, which takes place when it is used sourdough or yeast to leaven the bread, it increases the absorption of iron. Therefore, to replace some of the other cereals, whole wheat bread can increase the intake of iron.
On the contrary, the substances present in tea, coffee, and even some herbal teas, such as chamomile and peppermint, prevent the absorption of iron. The cilantro and turmeric, two spices indies, are especially rich in substances that can hinder the absorption of iron.
The high doses of calcium also hinders the absorption of iron. In this sense, vegans may have a clear advantage over the lacto-ovo vegetarians. Dairy products not only lack of iron, eat it also inhibits the absorption of iron from other foods.
How much iron really need vegan?
The recommendations of the Council of Food and Nutrition were based on relatively few studies when it concluded that the iron demands of the vegetarians were significantly higher than those of meat-eaters.
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This study showed that diets based on plants with high levels of inhibitors of iron absorption and low levels of power give rise to a poor absorption of iron. Based on these results, they came to the conclusion that vegetarians may need up to 1.8 times more iron than meat-eaters.
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