Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen around your body in the form of hemoglobin. Getting a regular Hb test is usually done for controlling your hemoglobin level between 12-16 grams for women and 14-18 grams for men. Can you actually believe that food plays a vital role in maintaining the healthy iron levels in your blood? A diet lacking in iron can cause headaches, irritability, low energy levels, dizziness, or anemia.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia. That is a decrease in red blood cells caused by too little iron. Without enough hemoglobin, your body can’t transport enough oxygen to your tissues, and as a result, you feel weak and tired. Here is how to increase iron intake with food:
How Your Body Uses Iron From Food?
First of all, you need to know that there are two forms of iron in food:
- Heme- only found in animal products
- Non-heme- only found in plants
When you eat food with iron, iron is absorbed through the upper part of your small intestine. Heme iron is actually derived from hemoglobin. You can find it in fish and red meats. This type of iron is the primary source of iron for your body. It’s good to follow the boundaries above because too much iron in your body can potentially lead to organ failure. On the other hand, iron absorbed from fruits and vegetables is well regulated by the body, so it’s hard to overdose. Especially in combination with vitamin C from the strawberries or bananas, you can increase iron absorption if necessary.
Seafood is known as a great source of iron. For example, shellfish, clams, oysters, or mussels are really nutritious and high in iron—for instance, a 3.5 ounce serving of clams contains 3mg of iron, which is about 20% of the DV. It has a lot of protein(about 26 grams), 25% of the DV for vitamin C, and vitamin B12.
Fish is also a very nutritious ingredient; in fact, a 3 ounce serving of canned tuna contains approximately 1.5 grams of iron, which is about 8% of the DV. If you love eating fish, you probably know that it contains omega-3 fatty acids that can help you maintain your brain health and excellent immunity.
- Red Meat
If you want to increase iron intake, you should eat red meat because only a 3.5-ounce serving contains 2.7 grams of iron, which is about 15% of the DV. It’s also really nutritious, and it has a lot of protein, zinc, and several B vitamins. This is the most easily accessible source of heme iron you can find. The thing is, people who eat meat and fish have much lower chances for iron deficiency.
- Dark Chocolate
If you are looking for a healthy version of sweets, here is the solution for all chocolate lovers. When you eat a 1-ounce serving of dark chocolate, you can tell that you ate 3.5 grams of iron, which is around 20% of the DV. It also has a lot of magnesium, and cocoa powder is actually a great antioxidant, plus it has beneficial effects on cholesterol.
About 3.5 ounces of raw spinach contain 2.7 grams of iron or 15% of the DV. It’s good to know that this is non-heme iron only found in plants, and you can also find it in broccoli. Spinach has a lot of vitamin C, which is an excellent combination for boosting iron absorption.
As we already mentioned, iron is essential for the normal functioning of your body. The body can’t produce it on its own, so you need to take care of your diet by eating enough iron-rich food every day. Just make sure to boost heme and nonheme iron intake, but also to respect boundaries from above. After all, try to consult your health provider or visit the Chicago weight loss clinic.