Iron: we often hear about it and it is present in most food supplements. But what is it for? Is it really essential? Where can you find it easily? And above all, what are the benefits of iron on our hair? Like every week, Madam President zooms in and gives you all the information on this essential nutrient. Let's get started!
Iron: our best friend
We are told everywhere: iron is essential to our body. But what is it really? We'll find out!
Iron... or irons?
There are actually two main types of iron: heme iron, present in meat, fish and seafood, and non-heme iron, mainly found in plants, eggs and dairy products (but you will also find it in foods of animal origin). Far from being opposites, they are complementary and the ideal is to consume both, but they are not assimilated in the same way (we tell you about this just below, be patient!).
But what exactly is iron? Because no, no metal in your blood! Iron is a trace element , that is to say it is present in the body in trace amounts, at approximately 0.005% . Clearly not enough to set off a metal detector! In addition, it is not synthesized by the body, which means that we have to consume it to provide the necessary quantity for our body.
Although anemia is quite rare in men, almost half of adult women are iron deficient... That's a good number of people! This anemia is common from the onset of periods until menopause, because it is often linked to regular menstrual bleeding (the heavier the bleeding, the higher the risk of anemia). But other factors exist! Thus, pregnancy and breastfeeding are periods during which women need a very high intake of iron.
Likewise, the vegetarian diet sometimes promotes anemia. You understood it, but we'll say it again: non-heme iron, present in foods of plant origin, is assimilated less well than the heme iron present in meat and fish. 5% absorption rate for the first compared to 20 to 25% for the second! In addition, the quantities present in vegetables and other plants are lower than in meat, which again explains why iron supplementation is sometimes necessary for vegetarians.
How to benefit from the benefits of iron?
In case of supplementation, the best thing is to consume the iron a quarter of an hour before the meal, with a large glass of water. It will thus be better absorbed and you will benefit from all its benefits. But this nutrient is sometimes poorly tolerated and can in particular cause stomach aches. You must then take it during the meal: it will still be very effective!
Bonus: vitamin C greatly promotes iron absorption. So overuse citrus fruits, which are full of them, but also vegetables and salads. Be careful though, consume them during the meal following your supplement intake to benefit from this vitamin boost!
Another little tip : do not drink tea or coffee in the hour before or after taking your supplement. The tannin they contain reduces the assimilation, and therefore the benefits of iron. But after this hour of alertness, you can indulge to your heart's content!* Likewise, some studies indicate that the calcium present in yogurt reduces the absorption of iron. In the event of a deficiency, be careful not to include yogurt in the meal following iron intake!
Finally, because things are done well, the heme iron from a meal increases the assimilation of the non-heme iron ingested at the same meal. The latter being less well absorbed than the first, that's a good thing: we told you that they were complementary! So don’t hesitate to combine foods rich in different irons in the same dish: long live lentils and sausages!
* If you have an iron deficiency, however, seek medical advice before drinking tea or coffee: it would be a shame to ruin a cure for this little moment of pleasure (easily replaceable by chocolate).
The benefits of iron on hair and body
We often tell you: iron is vital. Yes but why ? Because the benefits of iron don't stop at the hair! Let's take a quick look at the situation.
Iron: superhero of our body
Iron is essential for the functioning of our body. Yes, our entire body! All our cells need it, because it participates in the transport of oxygen in the blood and in the formation of the latter in the body. To be more precise, iron enters into the constitution of hemoglobin (which is responsible for the red color of the blood), and it is the latter which diffuses oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body (organs and tissues). . Likewise, iron has an essential role in the formation of myoglobin, which contributes to oxygen reserves in the muscles. In summary :
Less iron = less hemoglobin and myoglobin = less good oxygenation of cells = slowed metabolic functioning.
Thus, an anemic person will be tired, pale... And will get cold feet and hands more quickly! This essential role in oxygenation also explains the shortness of breath that sometimes accompanies iron deficiency.
Iron is also essential for the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters (notably adrenaline: the "happiness hormone"!) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's primary source of energy. In short, we've already said it: no iron, no energy!
Finally, as you can imagine given its importance, the presence of iron is associated with an effective immune system and the smooth progress of the pregnancy.
And the benefits of iron on hair, then?
In addition to all these benefits, iron also strengthens the skin, hair and nails (and this is what interests us today, we have not forgotten!)… By participating in their good oxygenation and their nutrition. Yes, everything is linked!
Thus, a deficiency can be the reason for thin and brittle hair, and greater loss. Iron therefore gives the hair strength, shine and vitality. It also strengthens the hair bulb, which limits hair loss... In short, a new essential nutrient for beautiful hair (yes, there are many).
As we have said, the body cannot create iron and we must therefore provide it through food. Our body is intelligent and adapts the iron absorption rate to its available reserves: iron will thus be better absorbed when reserves are low and, conversely, less absorbed when they are high. Thus, the risk of deficiency is limited... And the risk of excess too, because the latter can be toxic. But don't panic, unless you combine several iron treatments with a traditional diet, you run no risk!
And because we like to make your life easier, top 10 foods rich in iron : clams, pork, lamb, soy beans, oysters, white beans, tofu, whole sesame seeds, unrefined whole grains, spinach… And as a bonus, lentils, of course!
Consuming iron: our recipe idea
We know that your schedule as a minister leaves you neither time to think nor time to cook. So we have prepared a great iron-rich recipe for you, ready in less than 30 minutes!
Iron-rich spaghetti bolognese
Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes. For 2 people :
- 75 g of baby spinach
- 140 g of tomato sauce
- 150 g of minced meat (or tofu, for vegetarians and vegans!)
- 150 g of spaghetti
- 1 red onion
- salt, pepper, sugar
How to do it :
- Cook your pasta in boiling salted water and drain it. Be careful, they must not be overcooked, as the cooking will continue afterwards.
- Brown the chopped onion.
- Add the meat (or tofu) and let it brown until it has browned and released its water (of course, tofu does not release water).
- Add the tomato sauce.
- Let simmer for 10 minutes, then add the spinach leaves, salt, pepper… And a pinch of sugar for flavor!
- Mix with your spaghetti, and enjoy!
Of course, you can enhance your bolognese with whatever spices and aromatics you want, the combinations are endless!
In summary: iron is the superhero of our body since it participates in its oxygenation. Of course, we have not been able to develop here all the benefits of iron on the hair and its essential role for the body... This health passport file tells you everything !
If diet is essential, food supplements can also help maintain good iron levels in the body: so don't hesitate! Enhance your hair (and your skin, and your nails) with Hair boost , our iron-enriched gummies! And for the special needs of pregnant women, we created Mama ! In short, there is something for everyone!
Small disclaimer all the same, anemia requires medical monitoring: don't play with your health?
So, did you know iron was so important?