The Caveman’s Essential Nutrients #9: Iron

Caddy and GolferAnyone who’s seen the second X-Men movie knows that havin’ Iron in yer bloodstream can be very important. But other than givin’ you the ability to break out of high-security plastic prisons (provided you can control metal of course), what else does Iron do for ya? Fortunately, good ol’ Scratch is here to answer all of yer Iron related inquiries!

Iron is an essential component in the proteins that carry oxygen around yer body. The majority of the Iron in your body is found in a protein located in your red blood cells. It’s known as hemoglobin and it helps carry oxygen to your tissues. Iron is also found in myoglobin – a protein that helps carry oxygen in the muscles and in some enzymes that helps in biochemical reactions. Need a caveman-friendly translation on that (I know I do)? Basically, Iron keeps you feelin’ energized and helps keep your cells healthy and oxygen-filled.

Ever heard of Iron-deficiency? Basically, that means you don’t get enough oxygen delivered to yer cells. This can leave ya feelin’ fatigued and even compromise your immune system. If you find yerself constantly tired or sick, it might be a good idea to introduce a lil extra Iron in your diet.

But how exactly can you go about adding this much-needed nutrient into your diet? There are a number of foods that are rich in Iron and most of ’em are really tasty! Dietary Iron comes in two different forms: heme and nonheme. Heme Iron is found in animal foods that contained hemoglobin. Nonheme Iron is found in plants. Typically, nonheme Iron is easier to introduce into the average diet. That bein’ said, heme Iron is more easily absorbed by your body. Some handy sources of Iron include:

– Chicken liver

– Beef

– Oysters, shrimp, crab, and clams

– Tuna and halibut

– Turkey and chicken

– Fortified cereals, breads, and oatmeal

– Soybeans, lentils, kidney beans, and other beans

– Tofu

– Spinach

Now that ya know where to get it, how much Iron d’ya need? The daily recommended allowance of Iron for adults is 8 milligrams per day for men and 18 milligrams per day for women. To give you some idea of what you’d have to eat, three ounces of beef is about 3.0 mg of Iron. If, on the other hand, ya feel up to the chicken liver: three ounces of chicken liver provides around 25.0 mg of Iron! Either way, make sure to eat plenty of this very important essential nutrient!

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