How Much You Need: Men, 8-11 mg/day; women, 5-8 mg/day (27 mg/day if pregnant); 19- 50-year-olds, 18 mg/day, and between 8-15 mg/day at younger and older ages
Why You Need It: Iron is essential for the growth and development of our bodies. It plays a role in producing red blood cells, helps fight fatigue and strengthens the immune system.
What to Eat: Organ meats have a great amount of heme iron containing about 5 mg of iron for each 3 ounces. However, most Americans don’t consume organ meats typically, if ever. Clams and oysters luckily provide approximately 12 mg and 8 mg of iron for a 3-ounce serving; the same serving of chicken will provide 1 mg of iron, and most beef cuts and dark turkey can contribute 2 mg of iron. If you don’t consume too much beef or iron in general try the darker turkey meats, these can still be bought in lower fat versions such as 93% lean. Although most proteins will contain iron, milk is a poor choice.
Who is Susceptible: Iron-deficiency anemia is most common in women; though individuals who have had gastric bypass surgery, have undergone kidney dialysis treatment and individuals with poor eating habits are also at a high risk.
Expert Tip: To increase non-heme iron sources (plant foods) combine things such as sliced oranges on top of iron enriched cold cereals or rolled oat cereal. Pairing vitamin C rich foods (ascorbic, citric, lactic, and tartaric acid) like fruits and vegetables with other iron rich plant-based foods like pasta, beans, bread, dried fruit, and green leafy vegetables can enhance absorption by 6 percent. If you’re deficient in iron, your body actually responds better and may absorb up to 20 percent more iron if you use these pairing principles.
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