Iron is a very important mineral that helps nourish our body and keeps us going in our daily tasks. Iron deficiency leads to body fatigue, lack of energy to continue doing physical work, and causes severe anemia to pregnant women. In fact, it can cause a fetus’ demise, too. For babies, it can affect their motor skills and can hinder proper development of mental abilities. Because of these, iron-rich foods are always a must in your daily menu at home or in the office. Before we move on the list of foods that are rich in iron, let’s first take a look on who’s at risk in iron deficiency and how it can be treated.
Firstly, pregnant women pose the highest level of risk to iron deficiencies because they have a fetus that shares iron from their body. Children, especially those that belong in ages 6 months to 3 years old, and babies are also vulnerable to iron deficiency due to their growth pace. Iron is needed to support their full growth potential and to help them with their motor abilities, which usually include running and playing with other kids. Similarly, girls in their adolescent age, particularly those who have their first menstruation, are susceptible to iron deficiency syndrome.
Iron deficiency syndrome can be very well treated. In fact, there are a lot of ways to treat it. For one, there are over-the-counter multivitamins that are rich in iron while there are also vitamins that only contain iron like Ferrous Sulfate vitamins. However, they can really taste awful. They are for adults and kids should not be given them without medical prescription. Health care providers, specifically ob-gynes may also advise their patients to have iron injections, which is faster and more convenient to pregnant women who have problems swallowing iron-rich vitamins. On the one hand, consuming iron-rich foods is another way to treat iron deficiency syndrome, but it is a more appropriate action in preventing from acquiring the disease rather than treating it.
Here is a list of some iron boosters that we can readily find around us. Basically, iron sources are divided into two parts namely, heme, which is labeled for iron sources from meat and non-heme for plant-based sources. Red meat, green, leafy veggies like spinach, dried fruit, beans, chicken, soybeans, turkey, liver of pork, beef, and turkey, tofu, and artichokes are your best bets in to prevent your body from iron deficiency. Conversely, there are also cereals and grains that are rich in iron, but you’ll have to check the label of its packaging first. Sea foods, especially oysters, shrimps, clams, and lobsters also contain high amounts of iron while fishes like canned salmon or tuna contains about1.5 milligrams of iron. Raw kelp, spirulina, and Japanese seaweed called nori are also good sources of iron. In addition to that, the family of nuts including cashew, peanuts, almonds, and pine also has a lot of iron to offer. A square of dark chocolate even offers 5mg of iron. Other good sources of iron include caviar, squash and pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, raisins, prunes, and sun-dried tomatoes. If you love chicken, we are pleased to inform you that roasted chicken legs and chicken breast 1mg of iron per 99 grams of serving. However, you got to take away the chicken skin of course.
Though this list is full of delicious and accessible foods, it should be noted that most of them, specifically liver, clams, oysters, and caviar, have high amounts of cholesterol, which can greatly affects cardiovascular health. Conversely, foods like dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds have high calories, which can affect one’s body mass index. Therefore, these foods should be eaten in moderate amounts.
Here are some more tips on how you can increase your iron intake without necessary the feeling of being forced to do so:
- It is important to include iron-rich foods in your breakfast since this is the most important meal of the day. Most recommended iron-rich breakfast include a warm, iron-rich cereal speckled with pumpkin seeds or prunes and an orange juice. For lunch and dinner, have tuna, roasted chicken, or turkey and a few slices of raw tomatoes. Recipes that involve green, leafy veggies and lentils are also great iron boosters.
- Feeling a bit hungry in mid afternoon? Toss a few helpings of cashew nuts and you’ll not get iron-boosters, but mental boosters, too, sans the guilt.
- Did you know that Vitamin C helps the absorption of Iron in our body? Include citrus fruits and natural juices in your diet, too.
- Did you know that Calcium inhibits the absorption of Iron in the body? As much as possible, avoid taking Calcium supplements while having Iron-rich meals.
- Finally, don’t depend on your veggies solely for Iron as Iron found in meat are more soluble in the body. This is one con of being a strict vegetarian.