And quite often, you might find that if you do, your iron’s not optimal. The most recent government survey of UK diets showed that young girls and adult women (aged up to 64) are often well below the recommended iron level – with teenage girls a particular concern. In fact, over time, levels seem to be dropping further.1
If your iron levels drop too far (see Dr Marber’s Lowdown on Iron), you can find that, yes, you’re tired and washed- out because your red blood cells aren’t delivering enough oxygen to your system efficiently. Iron has other roles in the body too, including keeping your immune system working properly.
If the levels plummet sufficiently, they’ll take you into iron-deficiency anaemia. However, they don’t have to have reached this level for you to be feeling the effects of being low in iron.2 And as the statistics show, it’s surprisingly common for iron levels not to be optimal. All sorts of things can contribute, from heavy periods to a rigorous workout regime. Since red meat is a rich source of iron, people who cut this out of their diets often need to keep an eye on their iron levels too. What’s more, there are times and circumstances when you’re required to have relatively high iron levels; if you’re going to donate blood, for instance, you should have sufficiently high iron to be able to cope with losing some of it.3