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Iron Intake: How Cricket Powder can Increase your Iron Levels

Many women feel extremely fatigue, weak and tired. And we might think this is just another day in our lives looking after kids and family, working, exercising or running around to make sure all house tasks are done. “It’s all about a busy schedule”, I would say.

But have you ever thought that perhaps this has nothing to do with your busy life? And that you could be low in iron? Even if you have a healthy lifestyle and eat healthy food it doesn’t mean you get all the nutrients your body needs to function properly.

 

What is Iron and Why Do We Need it?

 

Iron is an essential mineral that naturally present in many foods and is involved in various body functions, including the transport of oxygen in the blood, which is essential for providing energy for our daily life.

Most of the iron in our body is incorporated into hemoglobin – iron-rich protein in red blood cells which helps carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If you don’t have enough hemoglobin-carrying red blood cells, your heart has to work harder to move oxygen-rich blood through your body.

 

Iron is absorbed from our food and drink in the intestines. It can come in two forms: as haem or non-haem. Iron from animal food sources such as meat, fish, poultry and insects (like crickets!) is known as haem whereas the iron in plant sources such grains and vegetables is non-haem. The haem form is more bioavailable to humans than the non-haem, which means humans absorb iron from animal sources (haem) more efficiently and in a different way to plant-based sources (non-haem).

 

According to our brand ambassador and nutritionist Pip Taylor, iron must be replaced through the diet as it is continually being lost through normal body processes. For women, considerable amounts of iron are lost during menstruation, but iron is also lost through sweat, urine and faeces. Athletes also can lose iron when red blood cells are damaged during impact exercise, for example. Read more about iron intake for athletes.

 

Iron Deficiency Anemia vs Normal Iron Levels

iron deficiency and anemia

Iron deficiency is more common than you think. Low iron symptoms include extreme fatigue, weakness, dizziness, pale skin, cold hand and feet, brittle nails, chest pain, fast heartbeat or shortness of breath.

Did you know that anemia is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2 billion people – over 30% of the world’s population – are anaemic, many due to iron deficiency, and women are among those at greatest risk.

 

But what are normal iron levels for women? According to the Australia and NZ National Health and Medical Research Council the recommendation daily intake (RDI) for women between 19 to 50 years old is 18mg/day whereas men between 31 and 50 years old RDI of iron is 8mg. Women RDI is much higher than men because of their reproductive years lose blood during menstruation.

 

For pregnant women this amount jumps to 27mg/day. WHO found out that in developing countries every second pregnant woman is estimated to be anaemic. It’s very important that pregnant women increase their iron intake especially “in the final 10 weeks of pregnancy as this is when your baby begins to build its own store of iron ready for the first 6 months of its life. This store is used until your baby starts on iron rich solids”.

 

Check out the recommended daily intake of iron:

Adults
Age RDI
Men
19-30 yr 8 mg/day
31-50 yr 8 mg/day
51-70 yr 8 mg/day
>70 yr 8 mg/day
Women
19-30 yr 18 mg/day
31-50 yr 18 mg/day
51-70 yr 8 mg/day
>70 yr 8 mg/day

Source: Australia and NZ National Health and Medical Research Council

 

Sources of Iron: Crickets are on the List!

 

Recently studies have been showing the nutritious power of edible insects and how they could be a solution for hunger in the future. They have been seen as an alternative for meat consumption because they are a much more sustainable protein and iron source. Compare to raising cows, pork and chicken, crickets require far less water, feed and land. They are also much more viable economically than livestock.

As I have already stated before, heme iron is found in animal foods such as red meats, chicken, fish and insects (like crickets!). As crickets are animals, they are well absorbed by our bodies. Liver and kidney, for example, are extremely rich in iron, which is one reason why insects are a great source of iron because the whole animal is consumed and there is no waste.

A study found that crickets have almost three times as much soluble iron than sirloin. They also have more iron than traditional animal iron sources such as beef, pork and chicken.

 

Check out the iron food sources listed below: 

Food Serving Size Iron (mg)
Beef Liver (braised) 100g 6.54
Beef Kidney (cooked) 100g 5.7
Lentils 100g 3.1
Organic Cricket Powder 100g 3
Spinach (raw) 100g 2.71
Beef 100g 2.37
Chickpeas 100g 1.23
Chicken 100g 1.21
Boiled Egg 100g 1.19
Pork 100g 1.15
Kidney Beans 100g 0.89
Broccoli (cooked) 100g 0.67
Spinach (cooked) 100g 0.66
Salmon 100g 0.61

Source: USDA Food Composition Databases

Observe that raw spinach has almost the same amount of iron as crickets. But did you know that spinach has a low iron bioavailability? It means our body doesn’t absorb iron from spinach so efficiently. According to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services it happens because spinach contains iron-absorption inhibitors, such as polyphenols, which can be also found in coffee, cocoa, and black, green and many herbal teas. Soy proteins, calcium and phosphorus can also reduce absorption from plant sources.

So if you are looking to increase your iron intake avoid having them during or directly after ingesting a source of iron.

 

 

 

How to Increase Iron Absorption?

On the other hand, there are a few foods and drinks that can help your body to absorb greater amounts of iron. According to the Better Health Channel vitamin C enhances iron absorption and can be found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A, for example, helps to release stored iron, so not enough vitamin A in the diet could also lead to iron deficiency. Animal protein (crickets included!) can boost iron absorption from plant sources. Quick tip: add Grilo Super Greens & Cricket Powder (53% RDI of iron per serve) to your green smoothies or juices. 

Cooking your food can also increase the amount of non-haem iron (iron found in plant-based sources) in vegetables. “For example, the body absorbs 6% of the iron from raw broccoli, compared to 30% from cooked broccoli”.

It’s important to remember that health is all about balance. Too much iron in the body can be toxic and have very serious consequences. So look after yourself and prefer iron rich foods sources to supplements (unless medically advised) as it is harder to over consume nutrients in real foods.

 

 

Start eating crickets