FREE Shipping on All US Orders

Best Iron Food Sources

by

Iron deficiency is the underlying cause of more than half of all cases of anemia. Since iron is used for more than 100 biochemical processes in the body, it’s not surprising that not having enough iron can cause more than a dozen symptoms. While taking an iron dietary supplement can help promote healthy levels of iron and healthy levels of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, making sure you’re eating iron-rich foods is also important.

The US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the minimum amount of a nutrient required to prevent a deficiency in healthy people. The amount of dietary iron required depends on the body’s iron needs. The RDA for iron is highest for pregnant women (27 milligrams per day), followed by women aged 19-50 (18 milligrams per day) and then teenaged girls aged 14-18 (15 milligrams per day).  Women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 19 require 8 milligrams per day.

The United States National Institutes of Medicine (IOM) concluded that the average dietary intake of iron is 16 to 18 mg/day in men, 12 mg/day in pre- and postmenopausal women, and about 15 mg/day in pregnant women. Thus, the majority of premenopausal and pregnant women in the US consume less than the recommended daily amount (RDA) for iron, and many men consume more than the RDA.

This means that, over time, women, especially menstruating women, are at a high risk for iron deficiency and developing iron deficiency anemia.

There are 2 different forms of iron in foods: heme iron and nonheme iron. Heme iron is present in animal foods, and nonheme iron is present in plant foods. Heme iron is better absorbed than nonheme iron, but the bulk of iron in a typical diet comes from plant sources, in the nonheme form. Some of the richest sources of dietary iron include oysters, beef, lentils, beans and dark chocolate (see table 3). Also consider cooking in a cast iron skillet, as some of the iron will transfer into your food as it cooks.

References

Geerligs PD, Brabin BJ, Omari AA. Food prepared in iron cooking pots as an intervention for reducing iron deficiency anaemia in developing countries: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2003;16(4):275-281. [Article]

Hallberg L, Hoppe M, Andersson M, Hulthén L. The role of meat to improve the critical iron balance during weaning. Pediatrics. 2003;111(4 Pt 1):864-870. [Article]

Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Panel on Macronutrients., Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silion, Vanadium and Zinc. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press;2001. [Article]

Micronutrient Deficiencies. World Health Organization Website. Accessed November 10, 2017. [Article]

Monsen ER. Iron nutrition and absorption: dietary factors which impact iron bioavailability. J Am Diet Assoc. 1988;88(7):786-790. [Article]

Wang M. Iron Deficiency and Other Types of Anemia in Infants and Children. Am Fam Physician. 2016;93(4):270-278. [Article]

Iron deficiency is the underlying cause of more than half of all cases of anemia. Since iron is used for more than 100 biochemical processes in the body, it’s not surprising that not having enough iron can cause more than a dozen symptoms. While taking an iron dietary supplement can help promote healthy levels of iron and healthy levels of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, making sure you’re eating iron-rich foods is also important.

The US Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the minimum amount of a nutrient required to prevent a deficiency in healthy people. The amount of dietary iron required depends on the body’s iron needs. The RDA for iron is highest for pregnant women (27 milligrams per day), followed by women aged 19-50 (18 milligrams per day) and then teenaged girls aged 14-18 (15 milligrams per day).  Women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 19 require 8 milligrams per day.

The United States National Institutes of Medicine (IOM) concluded that the average dietary intake of iron is 16 to 18 mg/day in men, 12 mg/day in pre- and postmenopausal women, and about 15 mg/day in pregnant women. Thus, the majority of premenopausal and pregnant women in the US consume less than the recommended daily amount (RDA) for iron, and many men consume more than the RDA.

This means that, over time, women, especially menstruating women, are at a high risk for iron deficiency and developing iron deficiency anemia.

There are 2 different forms of iron in foods: heme iron and nonheme iron. Heme iron is present in animal foods, and nonheme iron is present in plant foods. Heme iron is better absorbed than nonheme iron, but the bulk of iron in a typical diet comes from plant sources, in the nonheme form. Some of the richest sources of dietary iron include oysters, beef, lentils, beans and dark chocolate (see table 3). Also consider cooking in a cast iron skillet, as some of the iron will transfer into your food as it cooks.

References

Geerligs PD, Brabin BJ, Omari AA. Food prepared in iron cooking pots as an intervention for reducing iron deficiency anaemia in developing countries: a systematic review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2003;16(4):275-281. [Article]

Hallberg L, Hoppe M, Andersson M, Hulthén L. The role of meat to improve the critical iron balance during weaning. Pediatrics. 2003;111(4 Pt 1):864-870. [Article]

Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Panel on Macronutrients., Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silion, Vanadium and Zinc. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press;2001. [Article]

Micronutrient Deficiencies. World Health Organization Website. Accessed November 10, 2017. [Article]

Monsen ER. Iron nutrition and absorption: dietary factors which impact iron bioavailability. J Am Diet Assoc. 1988;88(7):786-790. [Article]

Wang M. Iron Deficiency and Other Types of Anemia in Infants and Children. Am Fam Physician. 2016;93(4):270-278. [Article]

WANT MORE FROM NBI?

 

If you want the latest news and tips to improve your health, let us know.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This