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Why Do Men Need Iron?

6th Aug, 2019  |  Claire O'Brien  |  Balanced Diet, Lifestyle

A man’s body needs iron to support a healthy immune function, reduce tiredness and fatigue, allow oxygen transport via the hemoglobin present in red blood cells and support normal energy metabolism as well as cognitive function. Getting the right amount of iron can improve a man’s mental performance in his day-to-day life, although this is not always easy.

Unlike women – who regularly lose iron through blood loss during menstruation – it is often not difficult for men to ingest good levels of iron from food as a result of a healthy, varied diet. However, despite this, diet alone may not be sufficient to maintain an optimum level of iron content in a man’s body.

There are two different types of iron found in food, heme and non-heme iron. While heme iron  – is found in animal proteins, and is readily absorbed, most health authorities recommend a safe upper intake of just 500g of red meat per week. Alternatively, non-heme iron – which is found in plants, nuts and legumes – is absorbed at a much lower rate than animal sources. Other daily habits such as drinking tea and coffee after your meals can further reduce your iron intake, as the tannins present in these beverages binds iron and reduces absorption.

Absorption is a key challenge when it comes to sufficient iron intake. This is particularly relevant to men who follow a vegetarian diet. Although a vegetarian diet is typically high in iron-rich foods, plant-based sources of iron are often poorly absorbed in the body.

As your muscles use iron to help produce energy, for men who exercise regularly – especially those who enjoy endurance exercise such as running, rowing and cycle – it’s extra-important to help maintain optimal iron levels. Iron contributes to the reduction of tiredness & fatigue, as well as supporting normal immunity. Pairing an iron supplement with a healthy diet and varied lifestyle may help to support men juggling a hectic lifestyle, especially those who struggle to fit working out into their schedule once they leave the office due to low energy levels.

Incorporating an iron supplement into a healthy, balanced lifestyle may help men maximise their day-to-day mental and physical performance.

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