Sources of Iron to Include in Your Diet
People are at a higher risk of iron deficiency than before these days. Those people who take antacids regularly, consume massive amounts of caffeine and avoid fruits, vegetables, and meat are at a higher risk. Roughly about 3% of men and 20% of women suffer from iron deficiency. About 50% of pregnant women suffer from iron deficiency, and menstruating women have a higher chance of having less than the required amount of iron.
Deficiency of iron can cause symptoms like fatigue, weakness, and dizziness. Luckily iron is available in a multitude of familiar food sources. Dietary iron is available in two forms: Haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron, found in meat, is more quickly and effectively absorbed by the body than non-haem iron, found in eggs and plants.
Sources of Iron (Animal-based)
Haem iron is found in sources of iron, which are animal-based. Some haem iron-rich foods are:
- Liver (Chicken, lamb)
Sources of Iron (Plant-based)
Non-haem iron is found in sources of iron, which are plant-based. Some non-haem iron-based foods are:
- Green peas
- Pumpkin seeds
- Nuts (Peanuts, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, etc.)
- Wholegrain cereals (Oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice, quinoa, muesli, etc.)
- Baked potatoes
- Dried apricots
Higher Iron Requirement For Women
In general, women need double the amounts of iron than men to replace the part lost during menstruation until menopause. Those who have iron deficiency should include a good portion of red meat each week till the iron balance is restored. After it is fixed, a sufficient daily intake of protein-rich foods should be maintained.
Iron Intake Challenges with Vegetarians and Vegans
Vegetarians or vegans tend not to store as much iron in their bodies as the people who have meat in their diet do. This is because non-haem iron, which plant-based iron, is not absorbed by the body as effectively as haem iron or an animal-based iron source. The body’s absorption of iron is increased or decreased with other nutrients in the body. Nutrients like vitamin C assist in the absorption of iron in the body. Therefore, vegetarians need to be particular about combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C to boost iron absorption.
Common Food Items To Avoid For Iron Intake
Things like tea, coffee, and foods rich in calcium can block iron absorption. People who have low iron levels should keep in mind to consume such items a couple of hours before consuming iron-rich foods.
If iron deficiency persists, some people might need to take multivitamins or an iron supplement regularly to balance iron levels in the body. A daily consumable multivitamin containing iron should be enough for most people. Consumption of a separate iron supplement may have adverse side effects, so it should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Although iron toxicity is very rare, it might be possible with supplements. It is best to take consultation from a healthcare provider for proper daily dosage and follow their instructions carefully. It is also important to have a health cover these days due to increasing medical expenses.
Disclaimer: This article is issued in the general public interest and meant for general information purposes only. Readers are advised not to rely on the contents of the article as conclusive in nature and should research further or consult an expert in this regard.