How Much Iron Does Your Body Really Need?

How Much Iron Does Your Body Really Need?

Tired? Dizzy? Looking a little pale? Maybe you’re low in iron, and you’re not alone. More than one million Australians are iron-deficient or anaemic, which is a huge leap from about 861,000 people in 2008. The common factor? Young women aged 18-30 are typically among the worst affected due to menstruation and pregnancy contributing to an increased requirement for iron. So, what’s the solution? Here’s all the information you need to get all the iron your body really needs.

If you need a break down, iron-deficiency anemia, the most common form of anemia, is a reduction in the number of red blood cells, which is caused by iron deficiency.

Without a sufficient amount of iron, your body can’t produce enough hemoglobin, a substance in the red blood cells that allows them to transport oxygen to the blood tissues. The solution? You need to up your intake of foods rich in iron.

Now, when it comes to iron there are two forms of dietary iron - heme (hematite) and non-heme iron. Heme iron (which is usually found in red meats, fish and poultry) is absorbed at a higher rate than non-heme iron (plant based products), which means that the body more easily absorbs iron from animal products than iron derived from plant foods.  

How much do you need?

For women aged 19-50, the RDA is 17.0-18.9 milligrams per day (it’s higher to compensate for menstrual losses), and 19.3-20.5 milligrams per day for men. The median dietary iron intake for pregnant women is 14.7 milligrams per day.

It may seem like a lot per day, especially for people who don’t eat meat regularly. Luckily for us though, there’s a plethora of foods that are rich in iron so you can mix up your diet.

Foods rich in iron

High sources of hematite iron, with 3.5 milligrams and more per serving, are:

-28gr. beef or chicken liver
-28gr. clams, molluscs (snails) and mussels
-28gr. oysters

Great sources of hematite iron, with 2.15 miligrams and more per serving, are:

-28gr. cooked beef
-28gr. canned sardines
-28gr. cooked turkey

Very good sources of hematite iron, with 0.715 milligrams and more per serving, are:

-28gr. chicken
-28gr. halibut, cod, perch, salmon, tuna
-28gr. ham
-28gr. veal

High sources of non-hematite iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, are:

- Breakfast cereals enriched with iron
- 1 cup of boiled beans
- 1/2 a bowl of tofu
- 28gr. pumpkin, sesame or squash

Great sources of non-hematite iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, are:

- 1 and a half cup of canned lentils, red beans, chick peas, peas
- 1 cup of dried apricots
- 1 medium baked potato
- 1 medium broccoli strain
- 1 cup of cooked noodles, enriched with egg
- 1/4 quarter of a cup of wheat germ (bran)

Very good sources of non-hematite iron, with 0.7 milligrams or more per serving, are:

-28gr. peanuts, walnuts, roasted almonds, roasted cashews or sunflower seeds
- 1 and a half cups dried, without pits, raisins, peaches, plums
- 1 cup of spinach
- 1 medium-sized green capsicum
- 1 cup of pasta
- 1 slice of bread or rye bread
- 1 cup of rice

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