Minerals Guide – IRON
What are Iron-rich Foods?
Red meat is one of the best iron-rich foods and an excellent source of heme iron, which is easily absorbed by the body. A 3-ounce serving of beef contains around 2.1 mg of heme iron. However, it's important to note that consuming too much red meat can have adverse health effects, such as an increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers. That's why it's essential to incorporate plant-based sources of iron into your diet.
Spinach, for example, contains around 3.2 mg of iron per cooked cup, while lentils contain about 6.6 milligrams per cooked cup. Tofu and quinoa are also great options, with about 3.6 mg and 2.8 mg of iron per cooked cup, respectively. By using a variety of iron-rich foods into your diet, you can ensure that you're getting the level of this nutrient your body needs to function at its best.
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for iron is 14 mg. That’s the average amount of iron which should be provided per head to a group of people.
Iron in Iron-Rich Foods and How they Affect the Body
Iron is an essential mineral required for hemoglobin production. Hemoglobin is the red pigment in blood that transports oxygen and the waste gas carbon dioxide around the body. It is also important for muscle pigment myoglobin production and cytochrome enzymes and plays a role in cellular energy production. Two-thirds of the body’s iron is present in hemoglobin.
Iron Fortification in Foods
In the UK, iron fortification of flour used in commercial bakeries is a requirement. The minimum amount of fortification is 16.5 mg per kilo of flour. However, breakfast cereal manufacturers also voluntarily fortify their products with iron, typically in the range of 70 mg to 120 mg per kilo. In addition, infant milk and formulas are fortified with iron by law. In all, such fortification adds up to about 10 percent of the RDA. Fortification makes iron-rich foods.
There are two kinds of dietary iron: heme and inorganic iron. Heme iron is absorbed by a special heme receptor up to 300 percent more efficiently than inorganic iron. Heme iron is the ferrous form of the iron ion: Fe2+. The inorganic form is the higher oxidation state ferric iron, Fe3+. Most dietary iron, however, is obtained from the inorganic ferric form, 48 percent from fortified cereals, and 16 percent from vegetables.
Vitamin C’s Role
The good thing is that vitamin C increases iron absorption by reducing ferric iron to ferrous iron, which means more iron is absorbed when we have enough of the vitamin in our bodies.
Never overboil vegetables
By the way, if you overboil vegetables, their iron content plunges by a fifth, so be careful. The iron will be in the water, so use it to make gravy, custard, or sauces out of it. NEVER SPILL THE WATER OF BOILED VEGETABLES DOWN THE SINK! Always reuse the water of boiled food. That way, you keep most of the precious minerals. You can make lots of iron-rich foods with boiled vegetable water.
Iron for Vegans and Vegetarians
People who don’t eat meat have an increased risk of iron deficiency because their iron intake will be in the inorganic ferric form. UK dietary iron intake has plunged over the past forty years due primarily to decreased meat consumption. This has resulted in increased cases of iron deficiency anemia (IDA), particularly among youngsters, menstruating women, the aged, vegans and vegetarians, and pregnant women. IDA symptoms include lowered immunity, fatigue, and reduced fertility. In addition, it appears as behavior problems, learning difficulties, and poor concentration in kids.
Hemoglobin and Iron Deficiency
Owing to the blood’s enormous demand for iron from iron-rich foods, any shortage of the mineral will quickly show up, especially in the red blood cells, which in science are called erythrocytes. A lack of iron leads to the production of smaller and paler erythrocytes, hence the symptoms of paleness, rapid pulse, dizziness, tiredness, and headache. Further signs of iron deficiency often include concave brittle nails, itching skin, hair loss, poor appetite, and swallowing difficulties.
Global iron deficiency
Globally, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disease, and most cases go unreported. However, menstruating women are more prone to the risk of iron deficiency causing immunity problems without showing anemic symptoms. Don’t take iron supplements if anemia is suspected but seek advice from your doctor because iron supplements may mask iron deficiency.
Iron and Immunity
The body’s white blood cells use potent iron-containing molecules to kill microorganisms such as bacteria and yeasts. One of the signs of iron deficiency is an increased susceptibility to getting nasty infections. That occurs when iron levels haven’t plunged low enough to cause anemia and won’t be picked up in a test for hemoglobin level. Instead, a test for the level of iron-binding protein called ferritin present in the blood will measure the iron level.
Iron and Pregnancy
It’s believed that iron requirements double during pregnancy, which is not surprising because a woman’s erythrocyte and hemoglobin count shoots up by a third. However, the absence of menstrual bleeding during pregnancy will contribute somewhat. Also, iron absorption rises some 900 percent during pregnancy to keep up with the body’s demand for the mineral. However, many doctors have ceased prescribing iron supplements during pregnancy because excessive supplementation increases the risk of developing pre-eclampsia.
Iron in Beer
On a lighter note, stouts, porters, and dark beers contain high levels of iron, so they are iron-rich foods. For example, a pint of Guinness contains 3 percent of the iron RDA. Also, a can of lager beer contains 7 percent of the phosphorus RDA and 5 percent of the magnesium RDA.
If supplementing with iron, it must be iron in the ferrous and not ferric form. This is because ferrous fumarate and ferrous gluconate are usually better tolerated by ferrous sulfate. Because vitamin C increases the absorption of inorganic iron when taken simultaneously, it’s a good idea to wash down inorganic iron supplements with fresh fruit juice.
Be aware that beverages containing tannins can reduce iron absorption by nearly 40 percent if drunk within an hour of eating. Unfortunately, not many people know that coffee can reduce iron absorption like that. So any iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach. Another thing to consider is that taking iron supplements alone can decrease the absorption of zinc, manganese, chromium, and selenium. So, only take iron in combination with these.
Iron in Sizzling Minerals
The Sizzling Minerals sample analyzed by TRC Minerals showed that the sample contained 27.9 mg iron in a hydrophilic plant-derived form. We assume, being inorganic and plant-derived, that this is the ferric form. That’s why it’s a good idea to supplement with our Sizzling Minerals.
Top Five 5 Iron-rich Foods
Organ meats, such as liver, heart, and kidney, are especially rich in iron. For example, pork liver has an impressive 6.61 mg of iron, which equates to just under half the RDA. But if you’re not a meat eater, take a look at the four iron-rich foods for vegetarians, and iron rich foods for vegans below.
Did you know that dark chocolate is actually a great source of iron and one of the best iron-rich foods? It is one of the top five foods rich in iron. Just one ounce of dark chocolate contains about 3.3 mg of iron, about 24% of the RDA of 14 mg for adults. So, if you're looking for a sweet and satisfying way to boost your iron intake, consider adding dark chocolate to your diet. Just be sure to choose high-quality dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids for maximum health benefits.
Spinach is a leafy green vegetable packed with iron (and cobalt), making it the ultimate superfood for anyone looking to boost their iron intake. Just one cup of cooked spinach contains about 6.4 mg of iron, which is about 46% of the RDA. Spinach is also a great source of other essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and folate, making it a great addition to any healthy diet. Try adding spinach to your salads, smoothies, or omelets for a delicious and nutritious iron boost. This leafy green is one of the most iron-rich foods available.
Lentils are another one of the great iron-rich foods, with just one cup of cooked lentils containing about 6.6 mg of iron, about 47% of the RDA. Lentils are also a great source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients like folate and magnesium. In addition, they are versatile and can be added to soups, stews, salads, and even made into veggie burgers. Try incorporating lentils into your meals for a delicious and iron-packed boost to your diet.
Did you know that tofu is one of the iron-rich foods? Just half a cup of tofu contains about 3.4 mg of iron, which is about 24% of the RDA. Tofu is also a great source of protein and other essential nutrients like calcium and magnesium. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries to smoothies, making it a versatile and nutritious addition to your diet.
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