Iron is an essential mineral in your body. It is important for increasing hemoglobin levels, helping cells work properly, and carrying oxygen from your lungs throughout your body.

The amount of iron you need varies depending on age, gender and diet. The RDA for iron is 10 mg for men, 15 mg for menstruating women, 10 mg for non-menstruating women and women over 50.

There are two forms of iron:

Heme iron, which is easily absorbed by your body. Foods with heme iron include beef, lamb, pork, liver, veal, chicken, turkey, fish and seafood.

Non-heme iron, which is absorbed less readily. Foods with non-heme iron include breakfast cereals, breads, pasta, lentils, dried peas and beans, tofu, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, dark leafy greens and eggs.

It’s one thing to eat foods that are rich in iron; the body’s ability to absorb this iron is another thing. It’s all determined by enhancers and inhibitors – components of your diet which make iron more or less likely to be absorbed. Vitamin C rich foods (citrus fruits, tomatoes, cantaloupe, strawberries and kiwis), for example, eaten with foods containing iron enhance iron absorption. Calcium, from dairy products, as well as coffee and tea, and colas inhibit iron absorption and should be avoided for 2 hours before or after meals containing iron.

FOOD SOURCES OF IRON

EXCELLENT

VERY GOOD

GOOD

3.4+ mg/serving 1.6 – 3.3 mg/serving 0.5 – 1.5 mg/serving
Meats:
Beef
Organ meats
Liver-beef and chicken
Clams
OystersVegetables and Fruits:
Soybeans
Tofu (soybean curd)
Apricots
Prune JuiceBreads & Cereals:
Cream of Wheat
Malt-O-Meal
Buc Wheat
Total, Corn or Wheat
Product 19
Infant cereals
Raisin Bran
Bran FlakesOther:
Nuts
Meats:
Liverwurst
Turkey
Chicken
Pork
Tuna
ShrimpVegetables and Fruits:
Spinach
Beans:
Lima, Navy, Kidney, White, Lentils
Lemons
Limes
Orange Juice
Raisins
Tomato Juice
Watermelon
Meats:
Egg and egg substitutes
Fish:
Cod, Salmon, SoleVegetables and Fruits:
Artichokes
Alfalfa Sprouts
Bean Sprouts
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Corn
Peas
Potatoes – baked
Apricots, dried
Dates
Figs
Prunes – dried or stewedBreads & Cereals:
Oatmeal
Wheat Germ
Whole Grain Breads
Enriched PastasOther:
Peanut Butter
Blackstrap Molasses
Brewer’s Yeast
Chocolate

 

 

Dairy Products:

Milk Cheese
Ice Cream Yogurt
Calcium supplements
Tums
While these foods inhibit iron absorption, they are good sources of calcium. Foods containing calcium, or other inhibitors should not be consumed 2 hours before or after ingesting foods or supplements containing iron, especially if you want to increase your hemoglobin level.

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