Iron is essential as well as crucial minerals required by your body to transport oxygen in its different parts. The red blood cells consist of hemoglobin, whose primary component is iron that enables it to carry the oxygen from the lungs to your entire body. The deficiency of such minerals, also called anemia, causes fatigue due to oxygen deprivation. This condition hampers the functioning of your brain and immune system. In the case of pregnant ladies, it increases the risk of developing certain complications during the delivery as well as to the health of a newborn baby.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 10% of the women have iron deficiency, and also it is a common nutritional deficiency found among the peoples of the U.S.
Dosage of iron required
As per your age, health condition, and gender, the iron intake varies. Children and infants need more iron as compared to adults. Following is the brief requirement per day as per age:
Ages 4 to 8: 10 mg
Ages 9 to 50: 8 mg
For women aged between 19 to 50 years requires a daily intake of 18mg. Women need more as compared to men because of the frequent blood loss during their periods.
Types of iron
Your food contains two types of dietary iron, namely heme iron, and non-heme iron. Their rate of absorption by your body is different. The heme iron is absorbed efficiently as compared to the non-heme iron. Foods such as poultry, meat, and fish have both types of iron, whereas vegan foods consist of only non-heme iron. Thus, vegans pose an elevated risk of anemia.
Let’s discuss the foods which will help in maintaining healthy iron levels in your body. We will discuss the different fruits, vegetables, meats, fishes, and grains that can provide you the daily dose of iron as well as later on how vegans can improve their iron absorption rate.
Spinach is one of the good option to cure anemia naturally. In every 100 grams of spinach, you get a dose of 4mg of iron. Amongst the different vegetables, this has the highest content of iron in it. Make sure you consume it in abundance.
It is rich in both vitamin C, and iron, which is a fantastic combination as vitamin C makes the absorption of non-heme iron efficient. In every 100 grams of beetroot, you get 0.4 mg of iron.
Along with iron, it is rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium. Which, as discussed above, increases the absorption capacity of non-heme iron. In every 100 grams of broccoli, you get 2.7 mg of iron.
Every 100 grams of chicken consists of 0.7 mg of iron. It is lean protein meat, which implies it consists of fewer fats and high protein content as compared to other meats.
It has the highest iron content as compared to other non-vegetarian foods. The small dose of chicken liver or beef liver is more than enough to spike iron levels in your body. Beef liver has low cholestrol and calories. Every 100 grams of chicken liver contains 9 mg of iron.
Every 85 grams of red meat contains 2.1 mg of iron. Make sure you eat red meat that has no fats. You can do this by choosing the parts of the meat that has low-fat appearance after cutting.
They contain 3 mg of iron content on every 100 grams. This satisfies the daily requirement of your iron levels.
Mackerel and Salmon
Along with the rich iron content, it also has omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart health. Every 100 grams of these fishes contains 1.7 mg of iron.
Along with the iron content, it contains essential vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin B12. In the seafood category, it is called the king of iron, as every 100 grams of clams contain 28 mg of iron.
Apart from these foods, certain fruits such as watermelon, pomegranate, and strawberries and grains such as soybeans, brown rice, and whole grains are rich in iron.
How to enrich non-heme iron absorption for vegans?
Well, you don’t need to switch to a non-vegetarian diet to improve your iron levels in your body. Few additive food supplements, along with the elimination of certain ingredients, will help in enhancing the absorption capacity of the non-heme iron in your body. Let’s see how.
Increase consumption of vitamin C
Vitamin C converts the non-heme iron into an absorbable form. Include foods that are rich in Vitamin C along with the foods that are rich in iron. Some foods that are rich in vitamin C are broccoli, orange juice, papaya, red pepper, sweet potato, kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberries, cauliflower, and tomatoes.
Consume soaked, cooked, and germinated foods
Cereals and legumes that are rich in iron content contain phytates which hinder the process of absorption of iron. Make sure you soak, cook as well as germinate these foods before consumption. By doing so, the levels of phytates are reduced.
Avoid too much calcium
Consuming too much calcium also halts the absorption capacity of iron in your body. Make sure you limit your intake of calcium.
Avoid tea and coffee
Polyphenols compound present in teas and coffees also causes obstacles in the absorption of iron from both heme and non-heme sources. Avoid consuming them right after your meals. Instead, drink them between your meals.
Anemia is common among the people, especially women population who are more prone to iron deficiency. Make sure you find a way to enrich the iron levels in your body by the foods mentioned above, or else your lifespan reduces with various irreversible damages caused to your body due to oxygen deprivation.