How Can You Find Iron in Your Diet ?
There is often not much written or known about Iron, but it is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies (especially amongest women).
One of the common question that arises amongest many, is how we can maximise our efforts, to ensure that we are getting our daily iron intake through the foods that we eat?
Why Is Iron Important For The Body?
Iron is important because one of its main function’s is to transport oxygen into the body. In fact, much of the iron in our bodies goes to the haemoglobin in the red blood cells. The process actually makes sure that our body has oxygen so that tissues and muscles can function. If you have limited iron in your body then you may experience the lack of healthy red blood cells, which can make you feel exhausted and tired often. Having too much is not good either.
It can also have many other effects, especially with regards to how your body functions in general.
Anything can be effected from brain function right down to our ability to fight infections regarding our immune system, therefore, Iron is certainly an important mineral.
What Are The Different Types of Iron
In our food there are two different forms of iron, Heme and non-Heme. Heme is found in animal products such as fish, meat, poultry and eggs and is easily absorbed by the body. Non-Heme is found in vegetable products like potatoes, nuts, seeds and vegetables and is not absorbed by our body so easily.
Beverages such as coffee can cause blockages with regards to absorbing Iron, however Vitamin C on the other hand helps one to absorb it. If you are on a vegetarian based or Vegan diet it may be hard to absorb Iron, however there are lots of vegetables and minerals that can be incorporated into your diet. In addition, many vegetable foods also contain a lot of vitamin C, which means that non-heme iron is more easily absorbed.
So How Much Iron Is Needed?
On average, men and non-menstruating women need about 10 mg a day (men: 9-11 mg, women: 15-16mg). Menstruating or breast-feeding women need 11-20 mg.
How can I get Iron From A Vegeterian Or Vegan Diet?
Moringa contains iron. This is a great super food where you only need 1 or 2 teaspoons . This provides about 0.28 mg of iron in one serving. Moringa can be added to just about anything! Add to your favourite smoothies, salads, casosroles, baking and anything else your heart desires!
There are other vegetable sources of iron, such as lentils, oatmeal, quinoa and other legumes, seeds like pumpkin and sesame, nuts such as cashew nuts, almonds or pine nuts and vegetables like spinach are also high in iron. If you feel that you are still not getting enough check out our list below, these foods can be added as a part of your diet whilst boosting your Iron intake:
- 340 g of spinach has about 9.21 mg of iron
- 100 grams of black beans has about 9 mg of iron
- 100 grams of chickpeas holds about 2.89 mg of iron
- 100 grams of boiled quinoa gives you about 1.49 mg of iron
- 100 grams of oatmeal has about 4.25 mg of iron
- 100 grams of boiled lentils has 3.3 mg of iron
- 50 grams of cashew nuts provides 3.34 mg of iron
- A tablespoon of cocoa (5 grams) supplies about 0.36 mg of iron
Smoothies are a great way to pack all of the above or similar ingredients into a liquid meal that is guaranteed to give you enough iron. A smoothie with spinach, a spoonful of Moringa and fruit (with vitamin C for better absorption) is already a perfect base for the rest of the day.
Have lunch or dinner that adds beans or legumes to your meal and you will notice that you will have more iron than you think. Also, a tip, sprinkle some pumpkin kernels over your salad or soup. Or try a salad dressing with some sesame seeds or what about using humus as a quick snack alternative?
As you may have realised, there are countless ways to get enough iron when you eat vegetables. Maximise your intake by combining a variety of them with fruits, grains, pulses and be sure to add Vitamin C enriched foods for easy absorption.