Are you feeling excessively tired and unmotivated lately? Those extra yawns could be a sign of more than seasonal gloom. If you haven't been keeping track of your iron intake, there's a chance you don't have enough of this essential vitamin in your system. If that's the case, you likely feel a lack of mental and physical energy.
An iron deficiency is no joke. When you're not consuming enough iron, less oxygen is getting to your muscles and cells because of a deficiency in red blood cells (called anemia). This can make you feel excessively sluggish. It can also cause hair loss and pale skin. Not enough iron in your body can make you more susceptible to infections because oxygen isn't being delivered to your spleen or lymph nodes (where white-blood cells live and fight off infections).
Getting enough iron in your diet is simple though, and you don't even need to take a supplement.
Here are a few of our favorite foods with high iron content:
We love legumes in soups and also in summer salads. One cup of cooked legumes has, on average, 35 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron. Legumes are also high in fiber, magnesium, and are a good option for replacing meat in your favorite recipes.
2. Pepitas (or Pumpkin Seeds)
You don't have to carve a pumpkin to source this iron-packed food. Pepitas (also called pumpkin seeds) are sold in most major grocery stores and are an incredible source of iron: One ounce has 23 percent of the recommended daily intake. These seeds are also a good source of Vitamin K and magnesium.
Quite possibly our favorite grain (soups, salads, pasta dishes—is there anything quinoa doesn't go well with?), quinoa is a superfood packed with protein, folate, magnesium, and antioxidants. It's also gluten-free, easy to cook, and rich in iron. One cup of cooked quinoa has 15 percent of the recommended daily intake.