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Iron in diet
Email this page to a friend Share on facebook Share on twitter Bookmark & Share Printerfriendly version Iron is a mineral found in every cell of the body. Iron is considered an essential mineral because it is needed to make part of blood cells .function The human body needs iron to make the oxygen-carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin. Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and myoglobin is found in muscles.Iron also makes up part of many proteins in the body.Food

SourcesThe best sources of iron include:

Eggs (especially egg yolks) Iron-fortified cereals Liver Lean red meat (especially beef) Oysters Poultry, dark red meat Salmon Tuna Whole grains Reasonable amounts of iron are also found in lamb, pork, and shellfish.Iron from vegetables, fruits, grains, and supplements is harder for the body to absorb. These sources include: Dried fruits o prunes o raisins o apricots Legumes o lima beans o soybeans o dried beans and peas o kidney beans Seeds o almonds o Brazil nuts Vegetables o broccoli o spinach o kale o collards o asparagus o dandelion greens Whole grains o wheat


o o o

millet oats brown rice

If you mix some lean meat, fish, or poultry with beans or dark leafy greens at a meal, you can improve absorption of vegetable sources of iron up to three times. Foods rich in vitamin C also increase iron absorption.Some foods reduce iron absorption. For example, commercial black or pekoe teas contain substances that bind to iron so it cannot be used by the body.Side

Effects. LOW IRON LEVELSThe human body stores some iron to replace any that is
lost. However, low iron levels over a long period of time can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms include lack of energy, shortness of breath, headache, irritability, dizziness, or weight loss. For more details on this condition see iron deficiency anemia.Those at risk for low iron levels include:

Women who are menstruating, especially if they have heavy periods Women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby Long-distance runners Strict vegetarians People with any type of bleeding in the intestines (for example, a bleeding ulcer) People who frequently donate blood People with gastrointestinal conditions that make it hard to absorb nutrients from food

Babies and young children are at risk for low iron levels if they do not receive the appropriate foods. Babies moving to solid foods should eat iron-rich foods. Infants are born with enough iron to last about six months. An infant's additional iron needs are met by breast milk. Infants that are not breastfed should be given an iron supplement or iron-fortified infant formula. Children between age 1 and 4 grow rapidly, which uses up iron in the body. They should be given ironfortified foods or iron supplements. Note: Milk is a very poor source of iron. Children who drink large quantities of milk and avoid other foods may develop "milk anemia." Recommended milk intake is two to three cups per day for toddlers. Adolescents are more prone to low iron levels because of rapid growth rates and inconsistent eating habits. TOO MUCH IRON-The genetic disorder called hemochromatosis affects the body's ability to control how much iron is absorbed. This leads to too much iron in the body. Treatment consists of a low-iron diet, no iron supplements, and phlebotomy (blood removal) on a regular basis..It is unlikely that a person would take too much iron. However, children can sometimes develop iron poisoning by swallowing too many iron supplements. Symptoms of iron poisoning include:

Fatigue Anorexia Dizziness Nausea Vomiting Headache Weight loss Shortness of breath


Grayish color to the skin

Recommendations. The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine

recommends the following: infants and children-Younger than 6 months: 0.27 milligrams per day (mg/day)

7 months to 1 year: 11 mg/day 1 to 3 years: 7 mg/day 4 to 8 years: 10 mg/day


9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day 14 to 18 years: 11 mg/day Age 19 and older: 8 mg/day


9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day 14 to 18 years: 15 mg/day 19 to 50 years: 18 mg/day 51 and older: 8 mg/day

Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk may need different amounts of iron. Ask your health care provider what is appropriate for you. References-Trumbo P, Yates AA, Schlicker S, Poos M. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, T Iron-Rich Foods. Spinach
may not give you superhuman strength to fight off villains like Popeye's nemesis Bluto, but this leafy green and other foods containing iron can help you fight a different type of enemy -- iron-deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia, the most common form of anemia, is a decrease in the number of red blood cells caused by too little iron. Without sufficient iron, your body can't produce enough hemoglobin, a substance in red blood ce

lls that makes it possible for them to carry oxygen to the body's tissues. As a result, you may feel weak, tired, and

IRON RICH DIET irritable.About 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men do not have enough iron in their body. The solution, in many cases, is to consume more foods high in iron. How Your Body Uses Iron in Food. When you eat food with iron, iron is absorbed into your body mainly through the upper part of your small intestine. There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is derived from hemoglobin. It is found in animal foods that originally contained hemoglobin, such as red meats, fish, and poultry. Your body absorbs the most iron from heme sources. Iron-Rich Foods. Very good sources of heme iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, include:

3 ounces of beef or chicken liver 3 ounces of clams, mollusks, or mussels 3 ounces of oysters

Good sources of heme iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, include:

3 ounces of cooked beef 3 ounces of canned sardines, canned in oil 3 ounces of cooked turkey

Other sources of heme iron, with 0.7 milligrams or more per serving, include:

3 ounces of chicken 3 ounces of halibut, haddock, perch, salmon, or tuna 3 ounces of ham 3 ounces of veal

Iron in plant foods such as lentils, beans, and spinach is nonheme iron. This is the form of iron added to iron-enriched and iron-fortified foods. Our bodies are less efficient at absorbing nonheme iron, but most dietary iron is nonheme iron.Very good sources of nonheme iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, include:

Breakfast cereals enriched with iron One cup of cooked beans One-half cup of tofu 1 ounce of pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds

Good sources of nonheme iron, with 2.1 milligrams or more per serving, include:

One-half cup of canned lima beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, or split peas One cup of dried apricots One medium baked potato One medium stalk of broccoli One cup of cooked enriched egg noodles One-fourth cup of wheat germ

Other sources of nonheme iron, with 0.7 milligrams or more, include:


1 ounce of peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, roasted almonds, roasted cashews, or sunflower seeds One-half cup of dried seedless raisins, peaches, or prunes One cup of spinach One medium green pepper One cup of pasta One slice of bread, pumpernickel bagel, or bran muffin One cup of rice

he National Academies, Washington, DC. Dietary reference intakes: vitamin A, vitamin K, arsenic, boron, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, silicon, vanadium, and zinc. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001 Mar;101(3):294-301. Allen RE, Myers AL. Nutrition in toddlers. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Nov 1;74(9):1527-32.