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What Are Iron-Rich Foods

Iron is an important mineral for the formation of blood cells and helps transport oxygen. Thus, when there is a lack of iron, the person presents symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, lack of energy and difficulty in concentration. 

This mineral is important in all stages of life and must be consumed frequently, but it is necessary to increase its consumption during pregnancy and in old age, moments when there is a greater need for iron in the body. Good examples of iron-rich foods are red meats, black beans, and barley bread, for example.

There are 2 types of iron, heme iron: present in red meat, and non-heme iron present in vegetables. The iron present in meat is better absorbed, while the iron in vegetables needs the consumption of a source of vitamin C to have better absorption. 

Table of foods rich in iron

Here is a table with foods rich in iron separated by animal and vegetable sources:

Amount of iron in foods of animal origin per 100 g
Steamed seafood22 mg
Cooked chicken liver8,5 mg
Cooked oysters8,5 mg
Cooked turkey liver7,8 mg
Grilled cow liver5,8 mg
Chicken egg yolk5,5 mg
Beef3,6 mg
Fresh grilled tuna2,3 mg
Whole chicken egg2,1 mg
Lamb1,8 mg
Grilled sardines1,3 mg
Canned tuna1,3 mg

The iron present in food from animal sources, has an absorption of iron at the intestinal level between 20 to 30% of the total mineral ingested.

Amount of iron in foods of plant origin per 100 g
Pumpkin Seeds14,9 mg
Pistachio6,8 mg
Cocoa powder5,8 mg
Dry damask5,8 mg
Tofu5,4 mg
Sunflower seeds5,1 mg
Pass grape4,8 mg
Dry coconut3,6 mg
Nut2,6 mg
Cooked white beans 2,5 mg
Raw spinach2,4 mg
Peanut2,2 mg
Cooked chickpeas2,1 mg
Cooked black beans1,5 mg
Cooked lentils1,5 mg
Green bean1,4 mg
Baked pumpkin1,3 mg
Rolled oats1,3 mg
Cooked peas1,1 mg
Raw beet0,8 mg
Strawberry0,8 mg
Cooked broccoli0,5 mg
Blackberry0,6 mg
Banana0,4 mg
Chard0,3 mg
Avocado0,3 mg
Cherry0,3 mg

While the iron present in foods of plant origin allows an absorption of around 5% of the total iron they have in its composition. For this reason it is important to consume them together with foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, pineapples, strawberries and peppers, because it favors the absorption of this mineral at the intestinal level.

See more tips in 3 tips to cure anemia 

Tips to improve iron absorption

In addition to iron-rich foods for anemia, it is also important to follow other eating tips like:

  • Avoid eating calcium-rich foods with your main meals, such as yogurt, pudding, milk or cheese because calcium is a natural inhibitor of iron absorption;
  • Avoid eating whole foods at lunch and dinner, as the phytates present in the cereals and fibers of whole foods, decrease the efficiency of absorption of iron present in food;
  • Avoid eating sweets, red wine, chocolate and some herbs to make tea, because they have polyphenols and phytates, which are inhibitors of iron absorption;
  • Cooking in an iron pan is a way to increase the amount of iron in poor foods, such as rice, for example.

Mixing fruits and vegetables in juices can also be an excellent way to enrich your iron diet. Two great iron-rich recipes are blended pineapple juice with fresh parsley and the liver steak. Learn more Iron-rich fruits . 

Daily iron requirement

The daily need for iron, as shown in the table, varies according to age and gender, as women have a greater need for iron than men, especially during pregnancy.

Age rangeDaily Iron Need
Babies: 7-12 months11 mg
Children: 1-3 years7 mg
Children: 4-8 years10 mg
Boys and Girls: 9-13 years8 mg
Boys: 14-18 years11 mg
Girls: 14-18 years15 mg
Men:> 19 years old8 mg
Women: 19-50 years18 mg
Women:> 50 years8 mg
Pregnant27 mg
Nutrizes: < 18 anos10 mg
Nursing mothers:> 19 years9 mg

Daily iron requirements increase in pregnancy because the amount of blood in the body increases, so iron is needed to produce more blood cells, just as iron is needed for the development of the baby and the placenta. Meeting iron needs during pregnancy is very important, but iron supplementation may be necessary during pregnancy, which should always be advised by your doctor.

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