Iron rich foods
Iron is one of the most important trace elements necessary for the body to synthesize hemoglobin. Regular consumption of iron-rich foods helps the immune system and provides oxygen transfer to tissues. In turn, a deficiency of this mineral leads to the development of anemia and the symptoms associated with it - including increased fatigue.
Iron-containing foods are especially beneficial for men because they can increase testosterone levels . Also, this mineral is critical for pregnant women - the recommended daily intake takes into account both the needs of the mother and the child. Among other things, an increased amount of iron is required for heavy menstruation and in the presence of various bleeding.
Micromineral deficiency leads to a decrease in hemoglobin in the blood, and also reduces the body's ability to utilize various toxins. At the same time, the use of iron-rich foods normalizes metabolism, positively affecting the absorption of various nutrients. In particular, mechanisms for the use of cholesterol are improved, which is beneficial for the health of the cardiovascular system.
Symptoms of Iron Deficiency
Iron is not produced by the human body and must come from food. At the same time, insufficient intake of a trace element with food is a typical phenomenon. Symptoms of iron deficiency include decreased attention span, fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations, and tinnitus during exercise. The quality of hair, nails and skin is also deteriorating.
It is important to note that iron-rich foods (and, in particular, dietary supplements and drugs) must be used with caution. Micromineral tends to accumulate in the body, leading to intoxication. In some cases, the symptoms of anemia may not appear at all due to a lack of iron, but in the presence of problems with its absorption, internal bleeding and other health problems.
- for men - 8-11 mg per day
- for women - 10-18 mg per day
- for pregnant women - 20-27 mg
- for children under 13 years old - 7-10 g
- for adolescents - 11 mg for boys and 15 mg for girls
Iron content in foods
The liver is the best food product, the richest in iron with a high level of assimilation. Since it is the liver that cleanses the blood, micromineral accumulates in its tissues. The heme iron contained in the liver is characterized by high bioavailability and a maximum level of assimilation (about 20%). Next on the list are offal and red meat - their color is due to the presence of hemoglobin.
Iron-rich animal foods:
Shellfish and oysters - up to 30 mg per 100 g
Mussels, oysters, shrimps, shellfish and other seafood are leaders in terms of iron content. One small portion is enough to cover the daily requirement for important micromineral. However, besides the pros, seafood can also have disadvantages - for example, the ability to cause food allergies and the presence of heavy metals in them.
Liver and offal - from 9 to 20 mg per 100 g
Most iron is found in pork liver - about 20 mg per 100 g, slightly less in beef - 17 mg, and in chicken - only 9 mg. Among other things, the liver contains vitamins A and D, which are important for the metabolism, as well as vitamins of group B. The low content of the liver can be high cholesterol. Other offal (lungs, heart) contain about 5-10 mg of iron.
Egg yolk - from 5 to 7 mg per 100 g
Despite the fact that chicken eggs contain a significant amount of iron, to cover the daily allowance, you will have to eat about 20 eggs per day. The indicated figure implies the content of micromineral in the yolk - and it accounts for only a third of the weight of the egg. In other words, 100 g of yolks is about 5-6 large enough eggs.
Red meat - from 2 to 4 mg per 100 g
Note that the amount of iron even in the best red meat is not as large as is commonly believed. Beef tenderloin contains about 4 mg of micromineral per 100 g - to cover the daily norm, you need to eat 300-500 g. Dark chicken meat and pork contain almost half as much iron, and even less important mineral in chicken breast.
The iron content in the products (with the level of assimilation) is a complete table at the end of the material.
Iron in plant foods
Recall that the iron contained in plant foods is non-heme and is absorbed worse by the body. The level of its assimilation is several times lower in comparison with heme from animal products. The champion in the amount of plant micromineral is spirulina and other algae growing in salt water. There is also a lot of iron in legumes.
Plant foods with iron:
Spirulina and other algae - 16-20 mg per 100 g
Spirulina is rightfully considered superfood - a food product with an extremely high amount of healthy nutrients. In addition to the high iron content, it is rich in iodine, riboflavin and thiamine. However, other algae (including seaweed) are very similar to it both in composition and in the content of minerals that are healthy for health.
Legumes - from 8 to 15 mg per 100 g
First of all, we are talking about lentils , which contains about 12 mg of iron per 100 g of dry cereal. In addition, important micromineral in large quantities is found in white beans - about 8-10 mg. Soybeans are also rich in iron - up to 10 mg per 100 g of fresh beans. In this case, textured soy protein (“soy meat”) and tofu may contain up to 10-15 mg.
Wheat bran - 10-12 mg per 100 g
By their structure, wheat bran is a shell of wheat grain. They contain not only fiber , which is important for digestion and metabolism, but also many different microminerals. Bran is rich in both iron and magnesium, necessary for the functioning of the nervous system.
Quinoa and buckwheat - 7-8 mg per 100 g
Recall that green buckwheat and quinoa are plant seeds, and not cereals at all. They do not contain gluten (it is a component of wheat protein), are distinguished by a high percentage of fiber in the composition, and also have a complete set of essential amino acids.
Nuts and seeds - 5-7 mg per 100 g
Most iron is found in cashew nuts - up to 7 mg per 100 g of nuts. In chia seeds - 6 mg, in peanuts - about 5 mg. Other nuts and seeds have a slightly smaller amount - but, in the end, the figure always depends on the growing conditions of the plant, and not on tabular standards.
Dark Chocolate - 5 mg per 100 g
Dark chocolate made from real cocoa beans contains quite a lot of iron. The reason is simple - cocoa beans are a bean product. However, other types of chocolate (especially milk and white) are made entirely from other ingredients.
Oatmeal - 2-3 mg per 100 g
A large portion of oatmeal contains about 2 mg of iron - about 20% of the daily intake. In addition, oatmeal contains a rare type of fiber that has the properties of a prebiotic and serves as food for beneficial bacteria in the intestines. Which, again, improves the work of metabolism.
Spinach and green vegetables - 1-3 mg per 100 g
Despite the fact that many online resources rank spinach as a leader in iron content, 100 grams of fresh leaves contain only 2.7 mg of trace elements. In fact, to cover the daily allowance, you will have to eat more than half a kilogram of spinach - given the light weight of the leaves, this is an extremely large amount.
Iron absorption problems
Combinations with approximately 20 different nutrients can inhibit (or help) the absorption of iron. First of all, we are talking about alcohol, calcium and casein, as well as with various acids (ascorbic, citric, fetic, lactic) and tannins. Recall that tannins are found in dark chocolate, grapes, red wine and tea. Substances react with iron, literally neutralizing it.
On average, the iron contained in food has a fairly low level of assimilation. Studies suggest that the body is able to absorb 14-20% of this mineral from animal sources (especially when combined with vitamin C) and only 5-12% from vegetable sources¹. Despite this, the above daily intake rates already take into account the low level of mineral absorption.
“Antinutrients” are food components that impair the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. For example, all legumes contain phytic acid - its regular and excessive consumption negatively affects the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium and phosphorus. To reduce the amount of phytic acid before boiling, it is recommended to soak the beans with water, and then rinse thoroughly.
Vitamin A deficiency and iron absorption
Vitamin A is needed for skin tissues and mucous membranes to maintain health and regenerate after damage. Deficiency of this vitamin prevents the absorption of iron from food and accelerates the development of iron deficiency anemia. Inadequate intake of vitamin A-containing foods is especially dangerous for pregnant women, since retinol is responsible for the nutrition of the fetus.
How to increase iron in the blood?
If you noted symptoms of iron deficiency (constant dizziness, exfoliating nails and skin cracking on your hands), first of all try to eat natural foods rich in this trace element. Supplements and other preparations with iron should be used exclusively as prescribed by the doctor and on the basis of a full blood test.
Remember that iron tends to accumulate in the body, leading to intoxication. Even if you notice symptoms of anemia in yourself, its causes may not lie in the lack of a trace element - in this case, taking iron supplements will only harm. The role can also be played by the fact that the mineral is lost as a result of internal bleeding, or due to other diseases.
Complete table of iron content in products - with level of adoption
|Food product||Iron content||Absorption Percentage|
|Dried mushrooms||35.0 mg|
|Sea kale||16.0 mg|
|Cocoa powder||14.8 mg||2-3%|
|Pork liver||12.6 mg||12-16%|
|Wheat bran||10.7 mg|
|Beef liver||7.0-9.0 mg||12-16%|
|White beans||8-10 mg|
|Buckwheat grain||6.7-7.8 mg|
|Oatmeal (wholemeal)||7.8 mg|
|Cashew nuts||7.0 mg|
|Beef buds||5.9 mg||12-16%|
|Fresh mushrooms||5.2 mg|
|Dark chocolate||5.0 mg||2-3%|
|Beef heart||4.7 mg||12-16%|
|Rabbit meat||4.4 mg|
|Turkey meat||4.0 mg|
|Pork heart||4.0 mg||12-16%|
|Beef tongue||4.0-5.0 mg||12-16%|
|Oat groats||3.9 mg|
|Rye bread||3.9 mg|
|Dried apricots||3.2 mg||2-3%|
|Chicken's meat||3.0 mg|
|Chicken egg||2.5 mg||2-3%|
|The apples||2.2 mg||2-3%|
|Cod liver||1.9 mg||9-11%|
Iron is the micromineral necessary for the body to produce hemoglobin and transport oxygen to tissues. It must necessarily come with food, because it can not be synthesized by the body. The most iron-rich foods are seafood, seaweed, and animal liver. Also, this micromineral is found in large quantities in legumes and in pseudo-cereal crops.
- Iron overview for health professionals. Research health effects, dosing, sources, deficiency symptoms, side effects, and interactions, source
- Food Data Chart: Iron, source
- Iron Content in Products - SportWiki Encyclopedia, Link