Last edited, 13 April 2020.
Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from the lungs to the cells to make energy. Without sufficient iron, the body will not be able to make enough hemoglobin and results in smaller blood cells. This leads to the condition called iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency can lead to anemia with symptoms such as a tendency to feel cold, fatigue, paleness, breathing difficulties, fainting spells, headaches, inability to concentrate and insomnia. It slows down metabolism and weakens the immune system. Low iron levels can also result in thinking impairment and limited physical work capacity and productivity.
Why are Plants better sources of iron?
There are two main sources of iron in our food: Heme iron and Nonheme iron.
Heme iron – present in meat (especially liver), fish and poultry.Nonheme iron – present in legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables.
Our body handles these two types of iron differently.
Heme iron gets easily absorbed by our body and continues to be absorbed and store it regardless whether our body requires it or not. When this happens, it can lead us to iron overdose.
Nonheme iron gets absorbed at a slower rate. Our body regulates the amount of nonheme iron it absorbs, taking only what it needs to maintain the iron at a healthy level.
The following table compares between iron from plants, from meat and from synthetic.
|Iron from plants||Iron from meat||Iron pills (synthetic)|
|no risk of overdose||may lead to overdose||may lead to overdose|
|no calorie||high calorie||no calorie|
|no cholesterol||high cholesterol||no cholesterol|
|regulated absorption as required by body||unregulated absorption||unregulated absorption|
|free from oxidative stress||causes some oxidative stress||causes great oxidative stress|
|will not burden liver or cause poisioning||burdens the liver||may severely burden the liver to the point of poisoning|
|no side effect||may lead to side effects||overdose may lead to side effect|
Plant foods rich in Iron
Excellent plant sources of iron such as ABM Mushroom and Maitake Mushroom are rich in easily absorbed iron and are free of side effects. These two wholesome plant foods are rich in polysaccharides, phytochemicals and antioxidants that nourish the immune system and making them ideal sources of iron.
100 grams of ABM Mushrooms contain 9.65mg of iron – the highest percentage of iron found in plant foods – that is easily absorbed by the human body.
Besides iron, this mushroom is also rich in a wide variety of minerals including phosphorus, potassium and zinc.100 grams of Maitake mushrooms contains 0.3mg of iron.
- Spinach and Chicken Liver
With 100 grams of each, chicken liver has three times more iron, but also has 345 times more cholesterol!
- Oxidative stress from meat and iron pills damage cell structure and accelerate aging. There is much evidence that excess oxidative stress is related to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s diseases, inflammatory diseases and other illnesses.
- Side effects of iron pills include constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark colored stools, abdominal distress and increased oxidative stress from overdose.