Iron is a trace mineral found in every living cell in our bodies. Iron is a primary component of two proteins: hemoglobin and myoglobin.
Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cell that carries oxygen to the body’s tissues.
Myoglobin is the part of the muscle cells that hold oxygen.
Since iron plays such a critical role in the body, the liver and bone marrow are able to store some iron in case it is needed.
It must be stored inside specialized proteins because free iron can cause damage to the body’s tissues.
Iron deficiency symptoms include:
- Poor concentration
- Weakened immune system
- Leaky Gut or IBS
Consuming high iron foods are important for Pre-menopausal women have higher iron needs than men due to monthly blood losses.
If you are low in Iron it is also critical to get plenty of vitamin C in your diet since it increases iron absorption. The RDA for iron is 8mg/day for men and older women, while pre-menopausal women need 18 mg/day and the Daily Value is 18mg.
Top 10 Iron Rich Foods List
3 oz: 5.6 mg (31% DV)
2) Beef steak
3 oz: 1.8 mg (10% DV)
3) Navy beans
½ c: 2.3 mg (13% DV)
4) Black beans
½ c: 1.8 mg (10% DV)
½ c: 3.2 mg (18% DV)
6) Swiss chard
½ c: 2.0 mg (11% DV)
7) Egg yolk
1 large: 0.46 mg (3% DV)
1 cup: 1.6 mg (8% DV)
1 cup: 2 mg (11% DV)
10) Collard greens
1 cup: 0.17 mg (1% DV)
Top Health Benefits of Iron
An iron deficiency is known as anemia. When there is not enough iron, the body cannot make hemoglobin which will result in light-colored red blood cells that cannot transport oxygen.
Symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia include lack of energy, poor mental function, and apathy. Pre-menopausal women and children are likely to get anemia if they are not consuming enough high iron foods.
Without iron, the primary cells in the muscles, called myoglobin, cannot hold oxygen. Without oxygen, these cells will not be able to function properly, resulting in muscle weakness.
The brain is very dependent on oxygen for proper function. If iron is not present, the brain will not receive the oxygen it needs resulting in poor memory, decreased productivity, and apathy.
Children with iron deficiency tend to become irritable, restless, and are unable to pay attention in class. These symptoms will disappear once iron levels are restored.
Pregnant women should consume more iron rich foods than anyone else. Pregnant women’s iron needs are around 27 mg daily and this is often covered in a pre-natal multi-vitamin. Also, pregnant women should consider consuming more healthy fat and folate rich foods during pregnancy.