Y’all, I have low iron. I’m not anemic; my iron level is just low. I learned that after the last round of blood tests. The new doctor knows I won’t deviate from my plant based diet, so he advised me to start taking iron pills.
The human body does not possess a way to excrete iron. So, if you ingest too much, you’re asking for problems.
“…an editorial in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute questioned whether cancer itself was a “ferrotoxic” disease, after a study showed that donating blood to rid oneself of excess iron appeared to cut cancer death rates in half. And with advanced neuroimaging techniques, iron accumulation in the brain is being increasingly linked to neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.”
So, I started trying to find out how much iron I really needed, rather than just swallowing something willy nilly.
There are two kinds of iron: heme iron from animal foods and non-heme iron. I don’t eat heme iron, which is probably why my iron is low. Bottom line, men and women over 50 are supposed to ingest 8 mg of iron daily. Add 1.8 times that if you’re eating only plant based foods, which comes out to 14 mg for me.
Women under 50 are supposed to ingest 18 mg a day. Men in that age range only 8 mg.
So, rather than take an iron pill, I decided to buy some cast iron pots and pans (that really do give off iron), up my intake of iron rich foods, and pace my coffee and tea drinking. Both coffee and tea make it more difficult for your body to use the iron you ingest, so it’s recommended that you wait an hour before and after drinking both coffee and tea to eat something rich in iron.
I also stumbled onto to something fascinating.
Here it is: The Lucky Iron Fish.
The Lucky Iron Fish is an iron ingot made of non-heme iron. You boil it in four cups of water for ten minutes (with a few drops of an acid, like lemon juice) and it gives off 6-8 mg of easily ingested iron. I boil two batches every day and drink the water. (It tastes like iron.) You can also put it into soups or pasta water, but only for ten minutes. It lasts five years, too.
Seriously, isn’t that cool?
Here’s the Amazon link if you’re interested. It costs $30.00, but they donate one to use in Asia. Be careful about other iron ingots Amazon sells. The Lucky Iron Fish has been tested and is not contaminated with lead or other minerals. I’m not so sure about the other, cheaper, versions.
Here are some articles about it: