How to Get More Iron in Your Diet
Iron is a mineral found in every cell of the body. It is considered an essential mineral because it is needed to in the manufacture of blood cells.
Foods high in iron
The human body needs iron to make oxygen-carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and myoglobin is found in muscles. Iron also makes up part of many proteins in the body.
The best sources of iron include:
• Dried beans
• Dried fruits
• Eggs (especially egg yolks)
• Iron-fortified cereals
• Lean red meat (especially beef)
• Poultry, dark red meat
• Whole grains
Reasonable amounts of iron are also found in lamb, pork, and shellfish.
Iron from vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements is harder for the body to absorb. These sources include:
Dried fruits, prunes, raisins, apricots, legumes, lima beans, soybeans, dried beans and peas, seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, Vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, collards, asparagus and dandelion greens; Whole grains such as wheat, millet, oats and brown rice.
If you mix some lean meat, fish, or poultry with beans or dark leafy greens at a meal, you can improve absorption of vegetable sources of iron up to three times. Foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.
Some foods reduce iron absorption. For example, commercial black or pekoe teas contain substances that bind to iron so it cannot be used by the body.
The human body stores some iron to replace any that is lost. However, low iron levels over a long period of time can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms include lack of energy, shortness of breath, headache, irritability, dizziness, or weight loss.
Iron deficiency is one of the leading risk factors for disability and death worldwide, affecting an estimated two billion people. Nutritional iron deficiency arises when physiological requirements cannot be met by iron absorption from diet. Dietary iron bioavailability is low in populations consuming monotonous plant-based diets. The high prevalence of iron deficiency in the developing world has substantial health and economic costs, including poor pregnancy outcome, impaired school performance, and decreased productivity.
Recent studies have reported how the body regulates iron absorption and metabolism in response to changing iron status by upregulation or downregulation of key intestinal and hepatic proteins. Targeted iron supplementation, iron fortification of foods, or both, can control iron deficiency in populations. Although technical challenges limit the amount of bioavailable iron compounds that can be used in food fortification, studies show that iron fortification can be an effective strategy against nutritional iron deficiency.4
In addition to including the mentioned iron-rich foods in your diet, add these to your daily routine:
1. FlavoC, 6 tablets per day
2. SuperGreens PhytoFood: 1 T per day in juice or smoothie
3. BFood Complex: 8 tablets per day
4. Whole Food Complex: 6 to 8 tablets per day
1. U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health; Jan 07
2. Trumbo P, Yates AA, Schlicker S, Poos M. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, The National Academies, Washington, DC. Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001 Mar;101(3):294-301.
3. Allen RE, Myers AL. Nutrition in toddlers. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Nov 1;74(9):1527-32. Review.
4. Zimmermann, M, R. Hurrell”Nutritional iron deficiency,”
The Lancet , Volume 370 , Issue 9586 , Pages 511 – 520
5. Campos Outcalt, Douglas, Twenty Problems in Preventive Health Care, McGraw Hill, 2000