Absorption of iron by the body is among the most important minerals we need. There is almost no cell in the body that does not contain iron, but it is found in the largest quantities in red blood cells. The health benefits of iron are numerous, and it is vital to prevent the so-called iron deficiency anemia.
However, do not worry, as it takes some time for iron deficiency anemia to develop because the body uses stored iron to build new blood cells. If for one reason or another you do not get enough iron for a longer period of time, at some point the symptoms of the deficiency will appear.
How much iron is in the blood
The types of iron that are absorbed are two – heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal foods and non-heme iron is obtained from plant sources. If obtained in adequate quantities, the body is well supplied with iron and there will be no dangerous deficiencies. However, it is good to note that non-heme iron is not as effective – in other words, the body does not absorb it as well as heme. Just because foods with high iron content in your diet doesn’t mean that all the iron you get is available to your body to use.
There are substances in the food we eat that increase the absorption of iron and others that inhibit it. Meat helps both to increase the concentration of iron and its absorption. If you are a vegetarian, you should eat foods rich in vitamin C. This vitamin improves the absorption of iron in your body by 20 times. It is extremely important for better absorption of non-heme iron.
Why is vitamin C so important for the proper absorption of iron
The explanation lies in the fact that in order to be well absorbed, iron must be converted to ferritin. The process takes place with the help of the action of gastric juices, and they, in turn, contain hydrochloric acid and vitamin C.
Many fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C – carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, melon, cauliflower, citrus fruits and their juices, green and red peppers, strawberries, papaya, tomatoes and many others. Other plant substances also improve the absorption of iron, but vitamin C plays a major role.
However, it is important to note that too high a intake of vitamin C can lead to folic acid deficiency, which is also very important for health. Therefore, it is good to be careful with the intake of vitamin C and to get only the necessary amount. The use of cooking utensils such as cast iron or metal pans, pans and pots can also increase the concentration and absorption of iron. This happens especially when you cook sour dishes such as tomatoes or tomato sauce.