No, we’re not talking about “pumping iron.” We’re talking about the mineral iron that’s necessary for our bodies to function properly. Amma Marfo, a master’s student at Florida State University, will explain more about her take on iron and what you can do to make sure you’re getting the right amount of it below. For information on similar topics, check out the Overheard On Campus category or log in to MyStudentBody.
True life: I’m addicted to TLC shows about weird things people do. And the scariest one I’ve seen lately is My Strange Addiction. People on it are addicted to things as normal as shopping or running, or as odd as ventriloquism or eating household cleaner. That last one (the medical term for it is pica), come to find out, is a severe symptom of an iron deficiency. Pica is a desire to eat non-foods such as soap, dirt, or ice. Other, less TLC-worthy symptoms include exhaustion, lightheadedness, and an inability to sleep.
So how do you make sure you don’t end up with a severe iron deficiency? Find good sources of iron in your daily diet! A lot of people get their daily dose in a vitamin, many of which include iron. But it’s best to try and get your iron in natural forms. There are two classifications of iron. Heme iron comes from, as you might expect, things that once had blood (gross, I know!). That includes meat sources like red meat, poultry, and fish. But fear not, vegetarians, there are non-heme sources of iron as well! Beans, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale are great for getting iron, as are beans and whole grains (oatmeal is especially good!). Bonus: if you eat iron with a source of vitamin C, it increases the body’s ability to absorb it. So strawberries and oatmeal, or turkey and cherry tomatoes, are even better for making sure you get your iron.
Bottom line: There are several ways to get more iron into your body, including changing your diet. But make sure you don’t go overboard.