Iron is a mineral that performs many important purposes, the primary one being to hold oxygen as part of red blood cells in the body.
It is an important nutrient, which means that you have to get it from food. The daily value is 18 mg. The amount of iron consumed by your body is partially dependent on how much you have stored. If your intake is too poor to offset the amount you lose every day, a shortcoming will occur. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia and cause some symptoms such as exhaustion. An especially high risk of deficiency is for menstruating women who do not eat iron-rich foods. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy food options to help you fulfill your everyday iron needs.
Bringing more iron into the diet will help avoid and improve general health by avoiding iron deficiency anemia. To help it carry out many vital processes, the body requires iron, such as energy production, growth, development, and hormone synthesis. Iron helps keep the immune system safe as well.
Hemoglobin contains about 65 percent of the iron in the body. Hemoglobin is a protein that is responsible for supplying oxygen to cells of red blood cells. In myoglobin, which is a protein found in muscle tissue, smaller quantities of iron are present. Myoglobin provides the muscles with oxygen and supplies energy during physical exercise.
Iron rich foods
Quite strong sources, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, of heme iron, include:
- 3 ounces of chicken liver or beef
- 3 ounces of mustache
- Oysters 3 ounces
The following are strong sources of heme iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving:
- 3 ounces of beef, cooked
- Canned sardines
- 3 ounces, canned in oil
Additional heme iron sources, with 0.6 milligrams or more per serving, include:
- Chicken 3 ounces
- 3 ounces of turkey that is cooked
- Three ounces of ham
- Three ounces of veal
Additional heme iron sources, with 0.3 milligrams or more per serving, include:
- Haddock, perch, trout, or tuna for 3 ounces
Iron is non-heme iron in plant foods such as lentils, beans, and spinach. This is the type of iron added to foods that are iron-enriched and iron-fortified. Our bodies consume non-heme iron less efficiently, but most dietary iron is non-heme iron
Quite strong sources, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, of non-heme iron include:
- Enriched with iron, breakfast cereals
- One goblet of cooked beans
- Half-a-cup of tofu
Good sources, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, of non-heme iron include:
- Half a cup of canned lima beans, chickpeas or red kidney beans
- One dried cup of apricots
- One cup of enriched cooked egg noodles
- A quarter cup of wheat germ
- 1 ounce of seeds for pumpkin, sesame, or squash
Other nonheme iron sources, with 0.7 milligrams or more, include:
- One-half cup of divided cooked peas
- 1 ounce of peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, roasted almonds, roasted cashews, or seeds of sunflower
- Half a cup of seedless dried raisins, peaches, or prunes
- One medium broccoli stalk
- One cup of spinach raw
- A single cup of pasta (cooked, it becomes 3-4 cups)
- One bread slice, half a small bagel of pumpernickel or bran muffin
- One cup of enriched or brown rice
How to get additional iron from your diet
Some foods can help the body absorb iron from foods that are high in iron; others can inhibit it. Avoid drinking coffee or tea or eating calcium-rich foods or beverages with meals containing iron-rich foods to extract the most iron from the foods you consume. To increase your iron absorption, consume it along with a good source of vitamin C, such as orange juice, broccoli, or strawberries, or eat non-heme iron foods with beef, fish, and poultry foods. Calcium itself can interfere.
You can need an iron supplement if you have trouble getting enough iron from food sources. But first, talk to your health care professional about the correct dose and carefully follow their directions. Because very little iron is excreted from the body, when the usual storage sites — the liver, spleen, and bone marrow — are complete, iron will accumulate in body tissues and organs. While iron toxicity from food sources is uncommon, with supplements, deadly overdoses are likely.
How Your Body Uses Iron in Food
When you eat food with iron, iron is primarily absorbed from the upper part of your small intestine into your bloodstream.
Two types of dietary iron exist heme and non-heme. From hemoglobin, heme iron is extracted. It is present in hemoglobin-containing animal foods, such as red meat, fish, and poultry (meat, poultry, and seafood contain both heme and non-heme iron). From heme sources, the body consumes the most iron. The bulk of non-heme iron originates from plant sources.
Iron rich foods for vegetarians
- Tofu, Tempeh, Natto, and Soybeans
- Other Beans and Peas
- Nuts and Seeds
- Pumpkin, Sesame, Hemp, and Flaxseeds
- Cashews, Pine Nuts, and Other Nuts
- Leafy Greens
- Tomato Paste
- Palm Hearts
- 11–13 Fruit
- Prune Juice
How to Increase Absorption of Iron from the Plant-based Foods
Generally speaking, the heme iron present in meat and animal products is easier to consume by the human body than the non-heme iron found in plants.
For this reason, the recommended daily iron intake for vegetarians and vegans is 1.8 times higher than for those who consume meat.
For men and postmenopausal women, this amounts to approximately 14 mg per day, 32 mg per day for women who are menstruating, and 49 mg per day for pregnant women.
There are, however, different methods that can be used to improve the ability of the body to absorb non-heme iron. The best-researched approaches are here:
- Eating foods rich in vitamin C: Consuming foods rich in vitamin C along with foods rich in non-heme iron will increase iron absorption by up to 300 percent.
- Avoid coffee and tea with meals: coffee and tea with meals will decrease the absorption of iron by 50-90%.
- Soak, sprout and ferment: through reducing the number of phytates naturally present in these foods, soaking, sprouting and fermenting grains and legumes may enhance iron absorption.
- Foods cooked in a cast iron pan tend to have two to three times more iron than those prepared in non-iron cookware: Use a cast iron pan
- Eat foods rich in lysine: Consume plant foods such as legumes and quinoa that are rich in lysine amino acid
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Generally, there is a good balance between the dietary supply of iron and the body’s demand for iron. However, if demand outstrips supply, iron contained in the liver can start to be used by the body, which can lead to iron deficiency. Once the iron has been used up by the body, it does not produce hemoglobin. This is called anemia with iron deficiency. Using a blood test to measure serum ferritin and hemoglobin levels, a doctor may diagnose anemia. Mild anemia is characterized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as having a hemoglobin level of:
- For adult females, less than 119 grams per liter (g/l)
- For adult males, less than 129g/l
Symptoms are as follows-
- pale skin color
- hair loss
- restless leg syndrome
- grooved nails or brittle
Who is at risk
- Women who are of childbearing age
- While pregnancy
- Poor nutrition
- Frequent blood donations
- Babies and children, especially those born prematurely or with a growth spurt
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Old Age
- Vegetarians and Vegan People
Ron is an essential mineral that must be ingested daily because it can not be formed by your body on its own. However, certain individuals ought to restrict their consumption of red meat and other foods rich in heme iron, it should be noted. Most individuals, however, are able to easily control the amount they consume from food. Note that you will improve absorption by using a source of vitamin C while consuming plant sources of iron if you do not consume meat or fish.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Pale skin
- fast/irregular heartbeat
- shortness of breath
- Headache, dizziness, or lightheadedness
- Cold hands and feet
- Inflammation or soreness of your tongue
- Brittle nails