Iron-rich foods are necessary in the diet of every human being who seeks a balanced and healthy diet.
These types of foods help produce certain proteins that are necessary for the body to be healthy.
If you have visited your family doctor and he or she has indicated that you should increase your intake of iron-containing foods, you are in the right place.
Stay with us and learn the benefits of eating iron-rich foods and the amounts needed to eat them.
What is iron?
Iron is an important mineral for the human body, responsible for stimulating vital health functions.
It is responsible for the production of proteins such as myoglobin and hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is located in red blood cells and myoglobin is located in muscles, moving and conserving oxygen throughout the body.
In addition, iron is responsible for helping some glands with the production of hormones and connective tissues.
Too little or too much iron causes diseases in the body, which can be treated by a doctor and a balanced diet.
Iron-rich foods ideal for the diet
Iron-rich foods are divided into two types, those that have heme iron and those that contain non-heme iron.
Let’s look at the characteristics of each type of iron-rich food:
Foods rich in heme iron
Heme iron is found in foods of animal origin.
It is present in red meat, poultry, eggs, some fish species, shellfish and crustaceans.
Shellfish, fish and crustaceans have approximately 4.8 to 7 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
Meat and poultry provide 2.5 milligrams of iron per 100 grams of meat consumed.
Egg yolk provides the body with 2.7 milligrams of iron for every 100 grams ingested.
Liver and black pudding are the foods of animal origin with the highest iron content. They contribute more than 10 milligrams per 100 grams.
Foods with non-heme iron
Non-heme iron is contained in vegetables. The amount of iron in vegetables is higher than in animal foods.
However, it takes much longer for the body to fully absorb iron from vegetables.
In the legume group, chickpeas provide 6.7 milligrams of iron per 100 grams and lentils 7.1 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
Chard provides 1.8 milligrams of iron per 100 grams and spinach 2.7 milligrams per 100 grams.
Among the cereals are: wheat that provides 3.5 milligrams per 100 grams, amaranth that provides 7.6 milligrams per 100 grams and oats provides 4.7 milligrams per 100 grams.
Nuts are also foods that provide large amounts of iron
Tofu provides 5.4 milligrams of iron per 100 grams and tofu provides 5.2 milligrams of iron per 100 grams.
Sunflower seeds and chia contribute 7.6 milligrams of iron per 100 grams to the body.
Sesame, pistachio, nuts, peanuts and hazelnuts provide the body with 14.6 milligrams per 100 grams consumed.
Recommended amounts of iron per day
The amounts of iron-rich foods that people can eat on a daily basis will depend on their age and sex.
In addition, it is important to take into account the condition of the people. For example, pregnant women will not consume the same amount of iron as a woman going through menopause or having her period.
- 0 to 6 months: 0.27 milligrams
- 7 to 12 months: 11 milligrams
- 1 to 3 years: 7 milligrams
- 4 to 8 years: 10 milligrams
- 9 to 13 years: 8 milligrams
- 14 to 18 years old: 15 milligrams
- Pregnant teens: 27 milligrams
- Adolescents in period of lactation: 10 milligrams
- 19 to 50 years: 18 milligrams
- Pregnant women: 27 milligrams
- Breastfeeding women: 9 milligrams
- 50 years and older: 8 milligrams
- 14 to 18 years old: 15 mg
- 19 years and older: 8 mg
Benefits of iron in the diet
Foods are a healthy source for the consumption of iron, in addition they stand out for giving us the adequate quantities we need, without the excesses that we can achieve if we consume it in another way.
Like every mineral that is part of the body, iron has benefits that improve your quality of life.
Part of the benefits of iron intake are:
- It helps you to fall asleep and avoid insomnia.
- It allows the rapid growth of nails and hair.
- Its consumption prevents diseases such as anemia.
- It reinforces the development of concentration, mental skills and rapid learning.
- It reduces the discomfort caused by menstruation.
- Strengthens the airways and the immune system.
- It participates in the synthesis of DNA.
- It carries oxygen and carbon dioxide through the blood.
Contraindications to eating iron-rich foods
When eating, it is important to eat the necessary amount of a product, no more and no less.
Low iron intake leads to iron deficiency anaemia, and excess iron intake also has consequences that are treatable but can be serious if left unchecked.
A mild consequence of excessive iron intake is that it causes constipation, vomiting and stomach upset.
As excess iron increases, it causes organ failure which, if left untreated, can become irreversible.
It is also possible to have excess iron in the body from an inherited condition called hemochromatosis, which affects the functioning of certain organs such as the liver.
In both cases, the body’s iron levels are known by performing a blood test in which special attention will be paid to the ferritin.
According to the data shown in the analysis of the blood sample, the doctor will prescribe the treatment and the diet to be consumed.
How do I know if I have low iron levels?
To find out if you have a low iron intake, the ideal thing to do is to go to a specialist who will prescribe a blood test to find out the state of your values.
Generally, if you do not ingest an adequate amount of iron, you can develop iron deficiency anemia or iron deficiency anemia.
Some of the symptoms you should be aware of, in order to see a doctor for suspected iron deficiency anemia, are
- Hair loss.
- Fatigue without previous physical activity.
- Nausea and dizziness.
- Unjustified bad mood.
- Poor performance in your daily tasks.
- Pallor on the inside of the eyelids.
- Ringing in the ears.
Most of these symptoms occur because – when there is a lack of iron in the body – the production of haemoglobin and myoglobin, which are necessary for the oxygenation of the body, is affected.