Did you know that Iron deficiency is currently one of the most common forms of nutritional deficiency in the entire world, particularly in younger individuals? People that suffer from an Iron deficiency that don’t get enough of this vital nutrient on a daily basis are far more susceptible to a whole variety of various illnesses and infections. As far as how much Iron we should be consuming on a daily basis, these numbers actually vary from males and females. Females aged between 19 and 50 require around 18 milligrams of iron each day, whereas males of the same age require around 10 on average. If women happen to be pregnant however, they require around 27 milligrams each day. Iron is responsible for a whole variety of different internal functions within the body, including playing a key role in haemoglobin formation and oxygen transportation within the blood. There are actually two separate types of dietary iron currently available to us, and they are: Heme Iron, which is naturally derived from animal sources, and iron which is derived from plant-based sources, which is referred to as Non-Heme iron. Experts recommend getting a healthy balance of both forms of iron into your diet and to help you do just that, here’s a look at 6 of the best dietary sources of iron currently available.
Many people turn their noses up at offal such as liver, although there are some people out there that simply can’t get enough of the stuff. Whether you love liver or hate it, it can’t be denied that it’s one of the healthiest and most vastly underrated food sources currently available, due mainly to the fact that it’s such a fantastic source of iron. As it obviously comes from an animal, the iron it contains is Heme Iron, and at 5mg of iron per average sized slice, beef liver is particularly beneficial. If you’re watching your weight and are looking for an even healthier source, opt for pork liver instead as it is leaner, and contains even more iron than beef liver. It’s also rich in vitamin C as well, which helps to strengthen and boost the immune system.
As well as allegedly working as a potent aphrodisiac, oysters are also a great source of numerous nutrients, including minerals such as zinc and iron. In actual fact, a number of other molluscs such as clams and mussels are also great sources of iron, but oysters are slightly higher. One average sized oyster contains around 4 or 5 mg of iron which means that four or five oysters will provide you with your daily iron requirements in a matter of minutes. They’re also a great source of vitamin B12. You can enjoy oysters raw or cooked if you would prefer and as if that wasn’t enough, they’re also rich in protein and amino acids too.
So far we’ve only looked at Heme iron foods derived from animals and living creatures, now we’ll look at a plant-based source of non-heme iron. Chickpeas provide the body with 5mg of iron per average sized cup, and they’re also rich in protein as well. They’re a great source of dietary fiber and B vitamins, and can be prepared in a number of different ways. They can be added to soups, stews, curries, and casseroles, or they can be blended up and turned into a hummus dip.
For the ultimate iron-rich start to your day, why not start your morning with a bowl full of fortified cereal such as bran flakes perhaps? To find out whether or not your cereal is fortified, simply read the nutritional info on the label and that will tell you how much iron the cereal contains, as well as how many various other vitamins and minerals are also found within it. There are currently a number of popular varieties that are able to provide a whopping 90 – 100% of your recommended daily intake or iron, as well as large quantities of other beneficial minerals and nutrients such as zinc, calcium, B vitamins, fiber, and folate. For an even healthier start to your morning, have your cereal with a serving or two of fresh fruit to increase the vitamin and antioxidant profile of your breakfast.
Spinach is actually one of the few foods that gets slightly healthier when you cook it and heat it through. Though beneficial in both raw, and a cooked state, by heating the spinach our bodies are then able to absorb more of the nutrients far easier. Spinach is rich in protein, zinc, vitamins, calcium, and of course, iron, which is one of the reasons why it had such a positive effect on Popeye. One cup of cooked spinach contains close to 6mg of Iron, and it’s highly versatile and can be used in many different ways.
For some of us, sesame seeds are nothing more than tiny little seeds we see scattered on the top of burger buns, but in actual fact, sesame seeds not only taste great, but they’re also very healthy and beneficial for us as well. Per cup, they contain a whopping 20mg of iron, plus many other nutrients including zinc, copper, vitamin E, phosphorus, and vitamin D. Obviously one cup full of sesame seeds is a lot to consume, but a great way of sneaking sesame seeds into your diet is to sprinkle them over salads or stir fries. One tablespoon of sesame seeds equates to roughly one milligram of iron.