Are You Getting Enough Iron?
Iron is a mineral that helps our bodies grow and develop. We use iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Iron is also found in the myoglobin component of muscles and is used to make specific hormones, like erythroferrone. This specific hormone acts by regulating hepcidin, which controls the absorption of iron from food and the distribution of iron in the body.
While iron is important for everyone, it’s especially important for women. During a woman's menstrual cycle, she will lose around 1 mg of iron every day she is bleeding. Additionally, during pregnancy, as the mother’s blood volume increases and the baby’s blood system develops, the iron requirements increase significantly. Having an iron deficiency during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm birth or low birth weight. Having a well-balanced diet and if needed taking an iron supplement can help prevent these issues.
Women between the ages of 19-50 need about 18 mg of iron a day. While women who are 51 and older should get about 8 mg per day. Listed below are some foods that contain high levels of iron:
In about 3.5-4 oz of ground beef, there is about 2.7 mg of iron. Ground beef is also rich in B vitamins, zinc and selenium. Red meat is also the most easily accessible source of heme iron.
In about 1 oz or 28 g of pumpkin seeds, there is about 2.5 mg of iron. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of magnesium.
One cup or 158 g of broccoli contains 1 mg of iron. In that one cup of broccoli, it also contains 112% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron better.
½ cup or 126 g of tofu contains 3.4 mg of iron. Tofu is also a great source of thiamine, calcium, magnesium and selenium. Tofu is associated with other health benefits as well.
3 oz or 85 g of canned tuna contains about 1.4 mg of iron. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to promote brain health and support healthy growth and development. Tuna, haddock, mackerel and sardines are other great examples of iron rich fish.
Bottom Line: Iron is essential to our survival and women are more at risk of developing anemia due to menstruation and pregnancies. It’s important for women to know the signs and symptoms of anemia and how to address them.
Written by: Meaghan Martin, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
5. Mayo Clinic