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The Truth About Iron & Iron Absorption

My mom, Darshna, has been asking about iron and iron absorption for the last week. We have a great relationship, but if I explain anything health related to her there is this natural conditioning that blocks my words out. Sort of like, "Health advice coming from my son?" So, I sent her this:

The Truth About Iron & Iron Absorption (via living-foods.com)

Some nutritionists and biochemists erroneously claim that raw isn't always best. Sometimes cooked food gives more nutrients for the buck, say Rutgers University and Taiwanese researchers at the 1999 annual American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco. They found that the body more easily absorbs iron from 37 of 48 vegetables tested when boiled, stir-fried, steamed, or grilled. Absorb-able iron in cabbage jumped from 6.7% to 27% with cooking. Iron in broccoli flowerets rose from 6% to 30%. What the researchers were apparently unaware of, is the potential harm of high inorganic iron absorption.

The Danger of Increased Inorganic Iron Absorption: The reason for iron becoming more absorb-able with cooking is that heat breaks down cell structure more completely than chewing alone. The ferrous iron (plant form) is changed to a more elemental inorganic form that is more easily absorb-able in the intestine. But the more elemental iron begins to overload the system since it is relatively difficult for the body to eliminate.

The iron in cooked food is altered by heat. Iron absorbed from cooked food is detrimental compared to raw. There are several forms of iron, and the body alters them to suit its needs. Elemental iron is inorganic. After cooking, the structures and bonds have been radically altered. Excess inorganic iron can be a problem. It is associated with • increased infection • the generation of heart disease • predisposition to formation of free radicals • free radical damage has extensive implications including the promotion of atherosclerosis, premature aging and cancer.

If you chew raw carrots well, you get as much iron as if you ate cooked mushy carrots. Thoroughness in mastication is just one factor governing the ultimate utilization of any nutrient. The health of the entire gastrointestinal tract has to be considered, as does the vitality of the individual (see: Nerve Energy), their blood purity, and the presence of all symbiotic factors involved in the absorption and utilization of iron.

Keep in mind the reasoning and trust, that Nature has provided the perfect balance of available nutrients in fresh plant foods which we are designed for. By the application of heat we upset that balance.


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I am interested in more information about iron storage. I have critically low ferritin, and my doctor is deeply concerned. She notes too that my TIBC is very high and this means that my body is scavenging for all iron it can find. I have been raw vegan for almost two years. Within 6 months, my ferritin was critical and has remained there. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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