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Benefits Of Iron Rich Foods: Health Benefits of Iron

Cereal has anywhere from 1-22 milligrams of iron per serving. One baked potato has 2 milligrams. And half a cup of tomatoes has about 2 milligrams of iron as well.

Cereal has anywhere from 1-22 milligrams of iron per serving. One baked potato has 2 milligrams. And half a cup of tomatoes has about 2 milligrams of iron as well.

Why Is Iron Important In Our Diet?

Iron is an essential part of the hemoglobin molecule which carries oxygen in the blood. The two most common types of people prone to iron deficiency are young women and children. For adolescents and teens, iron deficiency can make the skin look dull and for some can enhance the appearance of under eye dark circles, a major beauty and appearance issue with many women.

Often the lack of iron also expresses itself in the form of:

  • Fatigue,
  • Poor attention,
  • Shortness of breath, which is another condition itself, called anemia.
  • Brittle nails,
  • Inability to stay warm,
  • Frequent colds.

We can see why it is important to have a diet that includes iron and eat iron rich foods. Eating foods that contain iron can provide the following benefits:

Hemoglobin molecule. Iron is essential to normal hemoglobin function in the red blood cells.

Hemoglobin molecule. Iron is essential to normal hemoglobin function in the red blood cells.

The Benefits Of Iron

Having an adequate supply of iron in the body can help to raise energy levels and your attention span. Furthermore eating iron rich foods benefits the immune system and stimulates the production of healthy red blood cells. For those of you caring more about external appearance, iron stimulates muscle growth and reduces the appearance of under eye dark circles, this of course being if your under eye circles are not entirely genetically inherited.

Red meat contains iron.

Red meat contains iron.

Iron In Meats

As for foods that contain iron, Heme iron is found mainly in meats: poultry and fish. This form of iron is easily absorbed by the body and for individuals who have anemia, a daily supplement of Heme iron is an easy way to get your recommended daily dose.

Please note that taking more than the recommended dose, can lead to Alzheimer disease, and cardiac diseases. These can be avoided by absorbing the iron naturally, without supplements.

See the table at the end of the article for recommended daily dosing of iron based on age and sex and health conditions.

why-we-need-iron-foods-that-contain-iron

Symptoms of Lack of Iron

Iron In Vegetables

The iron that is found in vegetables (non-heme iron) is not easily absorbed by the body which is why vegetarians are told to take iron supplements. (Iron supplements have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, liver cancer, and coronary diseases. So it’s best to get your iron from natural sources!) If you want to avoid this fate, my best recommendation is to eat fruits and other vegetables that are high in Vitamin C: oranges, grapefruit, lemon, nectarines, pineapple, and other citrus fruits. Vitamin C makes it much easier for your body to absorb iron because it converts ferric iron to ferrous iron and ferrous iron is easier to absorb (let’s not get into the Chemistry of that now…) Drinking coffee, tea, wine and excess grains can inhibit the absorption of iron, but these can be countered by Vitamin C, so keep up with that.

Goji Berries contain a LOT of iron.

Goji Berries contain a LOT of iron.

No wonder he was so strong.

No wonder he was so strong.

Vegetables/Nuts/Fruits That Contain Iron

Per 1 Cup

  • Goji berries (up to 90 mg!)
  • Nuts
  • Dried beans
  • Soybeans (8.8 mg)
  • Spinach (6.4 mg)
  • Lima beans (4.4 mg)
  • Black beans (3.6 mg)
  • Chickpeas (3.2 mg)
  • Prune juice (3.0 mg)
  • Peas (2.5 mg)
  • Cashews (2.1 mg)
  • Raisins (1.6 mg)
  • Almonds (1.5 mg)
  • Watermelon (1.4 mg)
Oysters contain high amounts of iron.

Oysters contain high amounts of iron.

Meats That Contain Iron

Per 1 Cup

  • Beef (liver) (6.17 mg)
  • Organic chicken (1.13 mg)
  • Fish
  • Lean red meat
  • Turkey (2.0 mg)
  • Lamb (2.5 mg)
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Oysters (16.0 mg)
  • Clams (3.0 mg)

Goji Berries

NIH Iron Factsheet

Some Health Risks of Consuming Iron

Too much iron in your diet, upwards of 20 milligrams a day, can cause nausea and stomach pain. This worsens if the dose is not taken with any food or on an empty stomach. Iron is very tightly regulated in your body and cells so it's important to follow the recommended daily guidelines set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) if you decide to start taking a supplement.

Here are the NIH guidelines for iron supplements in the following table.

Do not exceed more than the recommended daily dose as set forth by National Institutes of Health guidelines.

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation

Birth to 6 months

40 mg

40 mg

 

 

7-12 months

40 mg

40 mg

 

 

1-3 years

40 mg

40 mg

 

 

4-8 years

40 mg

40 mg

 

 

9-13 years

40 mg

40 mg

 

 

14-18 years

45 mg

45 mg

45 mg

45 mg

19+ years

45 mg

45 mg

45 mg

45 mg

Find Out All About The Benefits Of Different Vitamins Here

  • The Benefits Of Vitamins
    All about vitamins. Includes information on benefits of vitamins, types of vitamins, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, D, and vitamin E. What are the main vitamin benefits and can you get too much or not enough of the benefits of vitamins?
Remember: Vitamin C helps your body to absorb non-heme iron, found in vegetables!

Remember: Vitamin C helps your body to absorb non-heme iron, found in vegetables!

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Comments

Peter Geekie from Sittingbourne on June 09, 2012:

Dear Londonlady

Well researched and interesting article. Iron, as you say, is an important mineral with varied essential uses within the body and its functions. Voted up and useful

Kind regards Peter

IronMan on June 02, 2011:

Is this why our blood tastes like iron...kind of...because of the hemoglobin that has the iron in it? That's pretty coollll

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