Iron (wo)Man!

15 Aug

No, I’m not talking about the Black Sabbath song or the awesome movie with Robert Downey Jr. I’m talking about the joys of pumping one’s body so full of iron that it has no choice but to absorb at least some of it!



First of all, let me explain why iron is so important. Low iron levels result in decreased incorporation of hemoglobin into the red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to various important parts of the body, thus an iron deficiency results in a lack of oxygen in the blood (oh no!). That deficiency can result in concentration problems, brittle fingernails, pallid skin, cold intolerance, headaches, and tiredness.



So now you’re wondering, “Oh God, how do I know if I’m deficient??” Well it’s simple. Have a doctor take some blood and look at your hematocrit, ferritin, iron, and transferrin saturation.



Hematocrit- The percentage of red blood cells which make up your blood. (Normal is 45-62% in men and 37-48% in women)



Ferritin- The protein that carries iron around in the blood. (Normal is 12-300ng/mL in men and 12-150ng/mL in women)



Iron- A mineral needed to incorporate hemoglobin into red blood cells. (Normal is 75-175 in men and 65-165 in women)



Transferrin is the glycoprotein that iron is bound to in the bloodstream. The saturation is the percentage of transferring binding sites which are filled. (Normal is 20-45%)



My levels at my last blood test (which I mentioned in an earlier post) were…*drumroll*


Hematocrit: 25%, Ferritin: 1, Iron: 9, and Transferrin saturation: 2%.



Problematic, eh? So, aside from starting a low-dose iron supplement, it’s very important to get more absorbable iron in my diet. Well, I already love red meat with every beat of my heart, and I love spinach and broccoli. But that would get really boring after awhile, so I did some research.

Blackstrap molasses are wonderful in cookies, gingerbread, and bran muffins. They also contain a whopping 13% of your daily iron in a mere 2tsp.

One package of these delicious baby clams contains 90% of your daily iron. What do you do with a packet of clams? Personally, I just like to eat them, but white-wine clam sauce can go over just about any vegetable or pasta, and alternatively you could bread and fry them in a bit of oil. If you’re a New Englander, I know you appreciate the joy of a delicious clam roll. Clams also make a great dip mixed with some low fat cream cheese and herbs.

If you like cereal, grabbing a serving of any variety of Total provides 100% of your daily iron. There are a bunch of different varieties now, but I really like the cinnamon-crunch. It reminds me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, only slightly less sweet. If you think whole-wheat cereal is gross (I like it!), crush up some Total flakes and use them in a batch of muffins. It adds a ton of iron and whole grains.

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I love red lentils as a replacement for meat in a meat loaf. Lentils are not only loaded with protein and fiber, but 1/4 cup uncooked accounts for 15% of your daily iron requirement.



Those are just some of my favorite iron-rich foods. Other good ones are shrimp, dark meat poultry, mussels, liver, beans, pumpkin seeds, and potatoes with skin.



These foods help your body absorb iron: Oranges and other citrus, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, potatoes, green/red peppers, and white wine. Unfortunately, red wine will block iron absorption because of the tannins, as will caffeine and sweet potatoes.


Once again, it’s all about being creative with what you eat and managing calories wisely. I cannot recommend journaling your food enough. Not only will it help weight-loss, programs like Fitday also allow you to run reports to find out what vitamins/nutrients you need to get into your diet. Give it a shot sometime.



Oh, and I forgot—not that this has much to do with iron, but here’s brilliant creation of the day: Vanilla Frozen Yogurt



One 24oz. container of vanilla yogurt (I was making this for Joe, so I didn’t use low-sugar, but it would work just as well)


½ of a small package of sugar-free fat-free vanilla pudding mix


1-2 tbsp. fructose (you could use splenda or even a sugar free syrup)


1.5 tsp. vanilla extract



Mix it all together and toss it in an ice cream maker. Thirty minutes later you’ll have some very delicious, sweet/tangy, and fairly healthy vanilla frozen yogurt.



In other news, I’ve had a Wii Fit injury! Who even thought that it was possible to hurt yourself with a video game?? Here’s what I posted on OH today:


“I love yoga. But I’ve never been very brave about it. Sure I’ll do the poses on one foot or something, but things that require going upside down I always just thought I could never do. Too fat, too inflexible, right Neen?

Well, last night I finally got the courage to try a shoulder stand, which is this…

Much to my surprise, I was able to do it and hold it for about 30-40 seconds. I kept telling myself to engage my abdominals and support my lower back. I concentrated on pushing the energy up through my feet and it was just amazing. There was no one there to see it, but I wanted to call everyone I knew. I almost called down my boyfriend to take a picture…lol

I had another “wow” moment this morning.

When I went to CVS and bought a lower back brace in a small-medium because I continued to do yoga after being very tired out from that pose and left my lower back screaming in pain.

Moral of the story: I am awesomely stubborn, and don’t do yoga when you’re overtired.”

Thankfully, my physician only laughed at me for a moment before giving me something for the pain. How very kind of her.



That’s all for today. I hope everyone has a marvelous weekend. It’s Restaurant Week here in D.C. and Joe and I will be dining at Dino’s tomorrow night. I will most certainly post a trip report. Other than that, it’s another weekend of pre-season football and Olympics! Yay!



Ciao for now!

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