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Iron And A Bunch Of Reasons Why You Need It

Let’s keep talking about the things your body needs to get you healthy or to make sure you stay there. Today it’s about Iron and a bunch of reasons why you need it.

Iron is an essential mineral. It’s responsible for many functions in your body.

  • Iron and a bunch of reasons why you need itIt sustains healthy skin, hair, and nails, as well as produces ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the body’s main energy source.

We can’t live without iron because it is the main carrier of oxygen through our bodies. Too much or too little oxygen can create havoc on your health.

Hemoglobin, a substance found in your red blood cells, which carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, consists of nearly two-thirds of the iron found in your body.

So, yeah. You need iron because you need oxygen.

Iron Deficiency Anemia is the clinical name for lacking iron. According to statistics from The World Health Organization, it is the leading nutritional disorder worldwide.

The National Institutes of Health backs up those statistics by stating that “as many as 80% of the world’s population may be iron deficient, while 30% may have iron deficiency anemia.”

It stands to reason that if you’re not getting enough oxygen in your body, you’re going to become fatigued.

  • That exhaustion can affect everything from your brain function to your immune system’s ability to fight off infections.
  • If you’re pregnant, severe iron deficiency may increase your baby’s risk of being born too early, or smaller than normal, according to the National Institutes Of Health, Office Of Dietary Supplements.

This is why it’s important to learn about iron and a bunch of reasons why you need it.

If you are anemic, you may have some of the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • pale skin
  • difficulty concentratingIron and a bunch of reasons why you need it-fatigue
  • cold hands and feet
  • sores in the corners of your mouth
  • dizziness
  • hair loss
  • brittle nails
  • fast heartbeat
  • muscle fatigue
  • sore tongue
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a weakened immune system

So, besides talking about iron and a bunch of reasons why you need it, let’s explore how to get enough of it.

Fortunately for us, iron can be found in a variety of foods, some meat-based and some plant-based.

Iron and a bunch of reasons why you need it-beansHere are some examples of plant-based iron sources:

  • beans and lentils
  • oatmeal
  • soybeans
  • spinach
  • iron-fortified foods

 

Examples of meat-based iron sources include:

  • red meats
  • poultry
  • fishiron and a bunch of reasons why you need it-poultry
  • liver
  • oysters
  • tuna
  • turkey

The problem, however, is not just in what you eat, but in how well your body absorbs nutrients.

In this regard, iron can be tricky. The absorption of iron can be affected by several factors.

  • Even though most foods contain plant-based iron, it’s the meat-based iron that gets absorbed easier in the body.
  • Most healthy adults absorb about 10-15% of the iron they ingest.
  • Those at the highest risk of iron deficiency are athletes who train frequently and at high intensity.
  • Vegetarians may be at risk because of their diets’ lack of iron-rich foods.

Also at risk are:

  • People who have renal failure (diabetics in particular)
  • People with gastrointestinal disorders which prevent them from absorbing iron efficiently
  • Pregnant women
  • Women with heavy menstrual cycles

The way around this is to boost your body’s absorption of iron (it takes more than just eating iron-rich foods).

For example:

  • Eat foods that contain high levels of Vitamin C (as strawberries, oranges, broccoli, peppers) with iron-rich foods
  • Combine 2 iron-rich foods together, such as beans and ground beef
  • Cook food in stainless steel pots or cast iron skillets
  • **Take iron supplements

**If you feel like you may be iron deficient, talk to your doctor about getting a blood test and a supplement that helps replenish iron levels.

  • Get clear instructions from your doctor about which specific supplements best meet your needs. Some iron supplements can cause side effects such as nausea, diarrhea or constipation, and dark stools.

On the other hand, if most of your foods contain plant-based iron, it’s better to decrease your intake of drinks that contain tannins, such as coffee, tea, and wine, because they further decrease the absorption of iron.

See the chart for the daily recommended dietary allowance of iron, as well as the best sources, at the bottom of the page.

  • An interesting fact about iron is that infants are born with a 6-month supply which means they require lower amounts than adults.

As we grow and develop, the lifestyle choices we make concerning food affect how our body absorbs and benefits from iron. ( I know…there’s those words again – lifestyle choices).

But the importance of this mineral cannot be stressed enough, mainly because lack of it causes a slew of serious health problems.

 Iron and a bunch of reasons why you need it-RBC'sTake a good look at your diet, see which foods you’d like to add more of or do without.

And, the best tip is to make sure your food combinations enhance the absorption of iron, rather than diminish it.

Here are the newest Recommended Dietary Allowances for Iron and a list of iron-rich foods:

Recommended Dietary Allowances 

Age

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

Birth to 6 months

0.27 mg*

0.27 mg*

 

 

7–12 months

11 mg

11 mg

 

 

1–3 years

7 mg

7 mg

 

 

4–8 years

10 mg

10 mg

 

 

9–13 years

8 mg

8 mg

 

 

14–18 years

11 mg

15 mg

27 mg

10 mg

19–50 years

8 mg

18 mg

27 mg

9 mg

51+ years

8 mg

8 mg

 

 

Selected Food Sources of Iron 

Food

Milligrams

per serving

Percent DV*

Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% of the DV for iron, 1 serving

18

100

Oysters, eastern, cooked with moist heat, 3 ounces

8

44

White beans, canned, 1 cup

8

44

Chocolate, dark, 45%–69% cacao solids, 3 ounces

7

39

Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces

5

28

Lentils, boiled and drained, ½ cup

3

17

Spinach, boiled and drained, ½ cup

3

17

Tofu, firm, ½ cup

3

17

Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup

2

11

Sardines, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, 3 ounces

2

11

Chickpeas, boiled and drained, ½ cup

2

11

Tomatoes, canned, stewed, ½ cup

2

11

Beef, braised bottom round, trimmed to 1/8” fat, 3 ounces

2

11

Potato, baked, flesh and skin, 1 medium potato

2

11

Cashew nuts, oil roasted, 1 ounce (18 nuts)

2

11

Green peas, boiled, ½ cup

1

6

Chicken, roasted, meat and skin, 3 ounces

1

6

Rice, white, long grain, enriched, parboiled, drained, ½ cup

1

6

Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice

1

6

Bread, white, 1 slice

1

6

Raisins, seedless, ¼ cup

1

6

Spaghetti, whole wheat, cooked, 1 cup

1

6

Tuna, light, canned in water, 3 ounces

1

6

Turkey, roasted, breast meat and skin, 3 ounces

1

6

Nuts, pistachio, dry roasted, 1 ounce (49 nuts)

1

6

Broccoli, boiled and drained, ½ cup

1

6

Egg, hard boiled, 1 large

1

6

Rice, brown, long or medium grain, cooked, 1 cup

1

6

Cheese, cheddar, 1.5 ounces

0

0

Cantaloupe, diced, ½ cup

0

0

Mushrooms, white, sliced and stir-fried, ½ cup

0

0

Cheese, cottage, 2% milk fat, ½ cup

0

0

Milk, 1 cup

LEARN MORE:

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B-12?

Understanding The Effects Of Potassium On Your Diabetes

Magnesium And Calcium Needs Of Diabetics

 

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