Iron is an extremely important nutrient for the body. It is a major building block of red blood cells. The major function of red blood cells is to carry oxygen from your lungs to other parts of your body, as well as removing carbon dioxide from your body. So without enough iron, your body can’t make enough oxygen carrying red blood cells. An iron deficiency can lead to conditions like anemia. Anemia is the most common type of blood disorder and symptoms can include headaches, fatigue, pale skin, and dizziness. Increasing the amount of iron in your diet is especially important for women. Women tend to have lower iron stores due to loss of blood from monthly menstruation and pregnancy.
Pregnancy and Iron:
During pregnancy, your likelihood of becoming anemic is higher due to the need for additional red blood cells to support the growing baby. Also, extra iron prepares the body for any blood loss that may occur during child birth. Since a lot of prenatals have a low dose of iron, it is important to include iron rich foods in your diet. For pregnant women, it is recommended to get at least 27 milligrams of iron each day. If you are breastfeeding, the recommend daily intake of iron is 10 milligrams each day. For women over 19 years of age, you would need 18 milligrams of iron each day. If you are taking an iron supplement, it is best to take it separately from calcium or any other dairy products because it hinders absorption. Vitamin C is said to increase the absorption of iron, so plan to take your supplement around certain meals of the day!
Recommended Dietary Allowances for Iron:
|Birth- 6mo.||0.27 mg||0.27 mg|
|7-12 months||11 mg||11 mg|
|1-3 years||7 mg||7 mg|
|4-8 years||10 mg||10 mg|
|9-13 years||8 mg||8 mg|
|14-18 years||11 mg||15 mg||27 mg||10 mg|
|19-50 years||8 mg||18 mg||27 mg||9 mg|
|51+ years||8 mg||8 mg|
Sources of Iron:
There are two types of iron, haem iron- from animals and non-haem iron- from plants. The richest source of haem iron is lean meat and seafood. For non-heam iron, its nuts, beans, vegetables, and fortified grain products. Some examples of excellent sources of iron include
- Lean beef
- English peas
- Lima beans
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Brussels sprouts
- Mustard greens.
As you can tell, iron is crucial for everybody to grow and thrive. Making sure you add iron rich foods to your daily diet can insure your body produces the amount of red blood cells needed to help carry out daily functions. Whether you are a vegetarian or meat lover there are plenty of options to choose from!!