Iron is critical for the overall health, mostly because it is a vital component of hemoglobin, which is responsible for transportation of oxygen from the lungs throughout the body.
As explained by Paul Thomas, EdD, RD, a scientific consultant to the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements:
“The major reason we need it is that it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body.”
Elaine Chottiner, MD, clinical assistant professor and director of General Hematology Clinics at the University Of Michigan Medical Center, adds.
“Iron is also necessary to maintain healthy cells, skin, hair, and nails.”
Interestingly, many people are deficient in it despite the fact that it is found in many foods. The reason? It is hardly assimilated in the body, as the digestive system faces difficulty to extract it from the consumed food.
“If you’re not getting sufficient oxygen in the body, you’re going to become fatigued, “Thomas explains.
This fatigue affects brain function as well as the ability of the immune system to fight infections. In pregnant women, iron deficiency increases baby`s risk of being born earlier or smaller than normal.
Iron Deficiency Causes
- Imbalanced diet
- An increased need for iron during growth, pregnancy, or breastfeeding
- Low iron bioavailability
- Excessive blood loss
- Poor iron absorption due to inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal disorders, or gluten intolerance
These 14 Vegetables Contain More Iron Than Meat
Spinach is undoubtedly one of the richest iron sources! As an added bonus, it is relatively low in calories but packed with antioxidants.
- Pumpkin Seeds
A 100- gram serving of pumpkin seeds contains 3.3 mg of iron, and high amounts of vitamins A, B, E and F as well as phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. They are also high in polyunsaturated fats.
Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachio offer 2.4 to 3 mg of iron, provide a long-lasting feeling of satiety, and support weight loss.
A 100-gram serving provides 1 mg of iron, which is around 6 percent of the recommended daily intake. Additionally, it provides 168 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.
A 100-gram serving of kale provides 1.5mg of iron, 200 percent vitamin C, and 512 percent vitamin A. It is also high in fiber and vitamin K, which makes it effective at preventing constipation and lowering cholesterol levels.
A 100-gram serving of lentils provides 3.3 mg of iron. They are also packed with vitamin B, fiber, and magnesium.
A 100-gram serving of beetroot provides 1.8 mg of iron and high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and betanin. Its folic acid content aids in assimilation of carbohydrates and promotes healthy liver function.
- Mung Bean
A 100-gram serving of mung bean provides 1.8 mg of iron! It is also an excellent source of zinc, copper, and potassium. Regular consumption of mung bean has been found to lower the risk of colorectal cancer, support weight loss, and control blood sugar levels.
A 126-gram serving of tofu provides 3.6 mf of iron, which is 19 percent of the recommended daily intake. It is also packed with calcium, selenium, magnesium, and thiamine.
- Dark Chocolate
A 30-gram serving of dark chocolate provides 3.2 mg of iron, which is 18 percent of the recommended daily intake. It is also rich in copper, magnesium, and fiber. It is known for its ability to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Amazingly, cocoa and dark chocolate and more potent antioxidants than blueberries and acai berries.