Iron is the most common metallic element in the universe. It is no wonder that it is the very source of our life, the magnetic molten liquid flowing through our veins that gives us warmth, energy and vitality. Iron is symbolically represented by the planet Mars and its attributes of strength, fortitude and power.
Iron is intrinsically linked with our capacity to be physically strong, dynamic and vital like fire, as this metallic element supports our biological conversion of glucose into energy. Deficiency symptoms of low iron include low energy, pale skin and pale mucous membranes, weak hair and brittle nails, shortness of breath and chronic lethargy.
Animal sources of heme iron and plant sources of non-heme iron are molecularly structured differently, this means that cellular uptake is different. Heme iron is structured like a lock and key to enter into the cell efficiently, whereas non-heme iron is less bioavailable because of its molecular structure.
Food sources highest in heme iron include liver, oysters, clams and mussels. Food sources highest in non-heme iron include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sundried tomatoes. To enhance your intake of non-heme iron you could include herbal sources such as nettle, yellow dock, burdock, chickweed, lemongrass and parsley.
Food sources that enhance iron absorption include beetroot, cacao, black strap molasses, spinach (cooked to reduce oxalates), cauliflower, tomatoes, kiwifruit, citrus and any food high in vitamin C. Food sources that inhibit iron absorption include tannins in black tea and green tea (Camelia sinensis), phytates from unsoaked or uncooked grains and legumes and oxalates from leafy greens, which are reduced when cooked.
Iron is stored in the liver and apparently men store twice as much as women, women certainly bleed more than men and therefore may need regular supplementation. Supplementation must be Ferrous gluconate or ferrous fumarate 9-18mg a day on average. Common iron supplements contain Ferrous sulfate which is poorly absorbed and highly reactive, causing damage to the lining of the gastro-intestinal tract as well as constipation.
If you are tired of being tired or simply feel like you lack lustre especially coming into these winter months it may be wise to elevate your iron intake. A red blood cell takes around 7 days to mature and then circulates in our blood for around 120 days, that’s a lifespan of 4 months. That means it is a process that takes from 1 week to 4 months for your tired red blood cells to be replaced with newly vitalised iron-rich ones.
Remember many sources are better than one, so drink your nettle tea and hot cacao, eat your parsley and pumpkin seeds, cook your spinach and enjoy seafood chowder this winter. Get cosy by the fire and listen to our WHITE FLAME meditation as a weekly practise to light you up and renew your fortitude.