Did Popeye Have An Iron Deficiency?

By | April 24, 2014

people-bodybuilder-439197_man_and_muscles_1Whatever happened to health promotion cartoons? If you watched Popeye as a kid, you were probably programmed to believe that eating spinach gives you iron and iron builds muscles. However, who really has the ability to carry around cans of spinach to the gym? When did spinach actually come in a can?. How much iron does spinach actually contain?.

According to National Institutes of Health: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Iron, the recommended daily of iron if different for men and women. Men actually require less iron than women at 8mg and women are recommended 18mg. The true job of iron in our bodies is to carry oxygen from our lungs throughout the body (as part of the protein hemoglobin).

The best way to actually get iron is through animal protein since our bodies absorb it much more efficiently then from plant sources i.e spinach. Therefore vegetarians are recommended to include an iron supplement as part of their daily intake.

If Popeye indeed did have an iron deficiency or was anemic, his symptoms would have been decreased performance, feeling tired, difficulty maintaining body temperature, and decreased immune function. From watching the cartoons Popeye did not show any of these symptoms, but, instead used spinach to give him a boost when he needed to “power through” things.

In reality, to get our daily allowance of iron from spinach we would have to consume to get that Iron boost we need?. According to the USDA, 100 grams of raw spinach will give you 2.71 milligrams of iron. So women would have to eat around 300 grams of spinach and men would have to eat around 900 grams!. However, your body does not absorb all of this because of a chemical, oxalic acid, which allows your body to only absorb 20% of that iron. Whereas, cooked spinach removes some of this pesky acid allowing your body. In order to maximum absorbency from spinach we must pair it with vitamin-c rich foods.

Perhaps Popeye should have been drinking green juice containing spinach, strawberries and orange juice?. Maybe this day and age needs a new “Popeye”, one who drinks this magical green juice containing fresh veggies and fruits to get a powerful glow and energy to take on his enemies!. The growing popularity of Popeye, did have an effect on the increasing consumption of spinach in children.

Even though the magical spinach substance was lacking in the instant strength department, it still contains calcium, protein, fiber and vitamins B1,B2,B3,B5,B6,E and a K. Maybe what our children need today is an idol who promotes healthy habits again and discredits those processed foods that have taken over their diets!.