The minerals are essential for good health and one of the most important to keep in mind is iron.
Iron is not just for children to grow and develop well. We all need this mineral since the body uses the iron to make hemoglobin, a protein of the red blood cells thanks to which the oxygen to our entire body. Iron also favors immunity, is required to make hormones and connective tissue.
What happens if you don’t get enough iron?
When there is an iron deficiency in the body, the iron deficiency anemia. Red blood cells shrink and contain less hemoglobin. As a consequence, blood carries less oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia:
- Intestinal disorders
- Lack of memory and concentration
- Babies and children can develop learning difficulties
- Decreased ability to fight germs and infections
- Less control of body temperature
Food Rich In Iron
Lean meats, seafood, and poultry
Organ meats like beef and chicken liver are a great source of iron.
Also, consider the oysters cooked (they are safer to eat). Although seafood contributes more, fish such as sardine add iron to its protein and omega-3 fatty acid content.
Beans, lentils, soybeans, spinach, and green pigeon peas
Black, white, and red beans are an excellent source of iron. Legumes are low in fat, low glycemic index, and zero cholesterol. They also provide protein and fiber.
Walnuts and some dried fruits such as raisins
Walnuts, almonds, and peanuts provide you with iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper, selenium, potassium, and phosphorous. They are also carriers of antioxidants, good fats for your heart, protein, and fiber.
Breakfast cereals and iron-fortified bread
Many breakfast bowls of cereal are fortified with iron; check the label. Avoid those that are sugary.
How Much Iron Do You Need
The daily amount of iron you need varies according to age, sex, and whether you consume a primarily vegetable diet. Iron from animal sources (heme iron) is better absorbed by the body than from plant sources (non-heme iron).
The recommended daily intake for men between 19 and 50 years of age is 8 mg; women between 19 and 50 years of age, 18 mg; while for pregnant women it is 27 mg according to the National Institutes of Health.
During pregnancy, the amount of blood in the woman’s body increases, which means she needs more iron for herself and the growing baby. Consuming too little iron can harm a baby’s brain development.
Recommendations To Improve iron absorption
Foods with non-heme iron should be combined with foods rich in vitamin C to facilitate the absorption of this mineral.
- Cooking with tomato
- Eat citrus, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli
- Add sauce or chili
Avoid drinking tea or coffee when eating foods with non-heme iron. The tannins in these drinks can inhibit the absorption of the mineral. The Costa Rican Journal of Public Health points out a cup of tea (250 ml) along with the food, decreases the absorption percentage by up to 60%, while a cup of coffee reduces it by 39%, even if it is taken an hour after eating.
Soak your legumes at least 4 hours before cooking. It is a way to disable antinutrients. Lectins in legumes can interfere with the absorption of calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.