Iron and energy: How are they related?

Iron and energy: How are they related?

10 Feb 2022

Believe it or not, over a quarter of the world’s population has an iron deficiency (6). Low iron levels can impact how oxygen is carried throughout the body and various bodily processes, it can also affect your energy levels. Let’s take a look at the importance of iron in maintaining our energy levels to help us go about our daily lives.

What is iron?

Iron is an essential mineral that our bodies need to support multiple functions and processes (1). Our bodies don't produce iron by itself, which is why it’s important to make sure that we meet our daily requirement of the mineral by including it in our diets.

Why should we take iron for energy?

One of the main uses of iron in the body is the production and maintenance of energy levels.

Iron does this by promoting haemoglobin production (1). Haemoglobin is the protein found in our blood that carries oxygen to different parts of our bodies. When this oxygen reaches our cells, it helps in the production of Adenosine Triphosphate, more commonly known as ATP. ATP is a form of energy that can be used by our cells for important bodily processes and functions. This process is known as energy respiration (1).

As iron is a vital contributor to this process, a lack of iron in our bodies can subsequently lead to fatigue, lethargy, and low-energy levels overall (2, 3).  

Children, ranging from babies to teenagers (especially teenage girls), are more prone to having low levels of iron (2, 3). Women who are still menstruating or women who are pregnant also fall under this category. Furthermore, athletes are also at risk of having low iron stores (3). As such these groups should be more conscious about their daily iron intake.

How much iron should we take a day for energy?

While iron is important for us, we should only really take small amounts of it on a daily basis to maintain good health. According to the Australian Dietary Intake, this comes to around 1 mg for healthy males and around 1.5 mg for menstruating women (4).

Of course, these values are not applicable across the board. When it comes to our daily iron intake, we have to consider factors such as age, gender, pre-existing conditions, and overall health.

Whilst the recommended dietary intake of iron might seem quite low, in reality we need to consume 1.5 times this amount to reach adequate iron levels (4). This is because our bodies only end up absorbing a small amount of the iron that we obtain from the food that we eat. However, we need to be careful in consuming too much iron. Remember to consult your doctor for a better understanding of how much iron you should consume per day.

What are good sources of iron for energy?

Since iron is important to support our energy levels, here are various sources of iron that we can include in our diets (5):

Meat and eggs

Meat and eggs are great sources for iron in our diets because they are easily available. When it comes to meats - beef, lamb, ham, turkey, chicken, veal, pork, dried beef, and liver are just some of the many options that you can consider (4).

Iron for energy

Seafood

Prawn, clams, scallops, oysters, tuna, sardines, haddock, and mackerel are great choices if you are looking to get your iron from seafood (4).

Vegetables

Besides providing iron, vegetables also contain other nutrients that can help us have a more balanced diet. Some vegetables with good concentrations of iron are: spinach, sweet potatoes, peas, broccoli, green beans, beet greens, dandelion greens, collards, kale and chard.

Breads and cereals

Certain grains are also great sources of iron if you’re looking for more variety in your daily diet. Whole wheat bread, enriched pasta, bran cereals, corn meal, rye bread, oats (steal cuts, organic, or rolled), enriched rice, and whole grains (quinoa, spelt, millet, and brown rice) are just some of the choices you have when it comes to breads and cereals (4).

Fruits

Much like vegetables, fruits can also add some fresh flavour to your meals. However, some fruits have higher concentrations of iron than others. If you are planning to add iron in your diet through fruits, opt for strawberries, melons, raisins, dates, figs, prunes, dried apricots and dried peaches (4).

Iron for energy

Taking iron supplements for energy

Certain dietary restrictions and lifestyle factors might hinder your capacity to intake adequate amounts of iron through your diet alone. In such cases, you can consider taking iron supplements to ensure you meet your daily requirement of the nutrient.

When it comes to iron supplements, Vitable’s iron supplements might be a viable option since they are made to be easily absorbed in the body. However, please note that iron must only be taken upon recommendation by your healthcare professional.

Iron for energy

Our bodies rely on iron for energy, therefore we need to ensure that we always consume adequate amounts of it on a daily basis. Doing so can help us operate optimally in our daily life and keep at bay the complications that may arise from iron deficiency.

Iron is an essential part of a healthy life. However, sometimes it’s hard to make sure that we get enough of it through diet alone. Luckily, Vitable’s vitamin subscription service can help keep you on the right track. Subscribe now to get your daily vitamin delivery of vitamin packs in Australia. Get your daily dose of personalised vitamins delivered right to your doorstep.

Find out more about other supplements that can support energy levels in the body:

Iron | Ashwagandha | Magnesium | B complex | Acetyl L-carnitine | Vitamin C | Vitamin B12

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

References:

  1. Iron (n.d.) Researched December 9, 2021 from https://research.vitable.com.au/iron
  2. Iron Deficiency - Adults (n.d.) Researched December 9, 2021 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/iron-deficiency-adults
  3. Why Am I Tired – Am I Iron Deficient? (2019) Researched December 9, 2021 from https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/why-am-i-tired-am-i-iron-deficient-anaemia
  4. Iron (n.d.) Researched December 9, 2021 from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/iron#recommended-dietary-iron-intakes
  5. Iron Rich Foods (n.d.) Researched December 9, 2021 from https://www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/blood-donation-process/before-during-after/iron-blood-donation/iron-rich-foods.html
  6. 30 Anaemia. Researched January 5, 2021 from https://www.health.gov.au/resources/pregnancy-care-guidelines/part-f-routine-maternal-health-tests/anaemia