Do you feel run-down and tired lately, as if you’re “out of gas”? You may have an iron deficiency. Iron is an essential nutrient primarily needed for transport of oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms of iron deficiency, also called anemia, include fatigue, weakness, anxiety, irritability, hair loss, and depression. And, because an iron deficiency is easily treated when caught early, It may be a good idea to get a blood test for a definite answer.

Iron is more bio-available from heme (meat) sources that from non-heme (plant sources), so vegans and vegetarians are often concerned about their iron status and intake. The Institute of Health almost doubles the recommended daily allowances of iron for vegetarians from 11mg to 20mg of iron per day for adults. This amount of iron is a good goal for all of us, except pregnant women, who should consume 27mg per day.

You don’t have to eat beef liver to “beef up” your iron levels! Vegetarian and vegan sources of iron include beans, lentils, tofu, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, whole grains, mushrooms, seeds, nuts, pumpkin, squash, and salad greens. Eating a wide variety of these foods should ensure you get the 20mg daily value for iron. Vitamin C-rich foods, such as such as mung bean sprouts, tomatoes and sweet red peppers, boosts your body’s intake of iron.

 Remember “Popeye” and his love for spinach? Popeye did not have an iron deficiency! One of my favorite juice combos is something called Popeye’s Punch, and it’s made from spinach, carrots, beets, celery and parsley…and it’s delicious!

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