How much iron is required for the body per day
Why iron is an essential mineral for the body
If you’re a female your performance may suffer it can affect brain function and it can also affect your hair your skin your nails so how much iron do we need that depends on your age your gender your activity level.
Kids actually need more iron than adults because they’re growing so rapidly so kids aged four to eight need about ten milligrams a day.
Kids at nine to thirteen as well as adult males from 19 to 50 only need about eight milligrams a day women 19 to 50 need about 18 milligrams a day whoa that number of the shot way up there why is that well there was a study in 2011 of collegiate rowers in New York State and it found that the females were pretty deficient in their iron and they attributed that to three things.
Deficiency of Iron in females:
2. High-intensity exercise can actually destroy red blood cells and that’s not a bad thing I’ll explain that in a second.
3. These athletes were focused on lean vegetarian and natural food and those are great but as an athlete, we want to make sure that we are getting the nutrients that we need to properly fuel our body.
Why does high-intensity exercise destroy red blood cells?
The red blood cells are destroyed new red blood cells are being created and we actually want this to happen because the younger newer fresher red blood cells can deliver the oxygen more efficiently.
So if we are not getting the proper nutrients that we need to fuel our body to keep the oxygen transport and the iron throughout the body that’s when the performance suffers and I mentioned that the lean vegetarian and natural foods can affect now again these are great dietary theories you know lifestyles to have but again you want to make sure that you are getting the proper nutrients.
So animal products that have iron can be absorbed in the body 14 to 18 percent I believe while plant products the iron is absorbed in the body from only five to twelve percent so that’s why things like red meat and seafood particularly clams are actually really great sources.
A vegetarian we’ve got spinach we’ve got beans and legumes also very healthy where else can you find iron in foods there are certain foods that are fortified I’m not a fan because fortified is also another word for the process which we can talk about that later however if that’s the only option you want to get it.
If you are vegetarian getting from plant sources you want to think about making sure you also get enough adequate vitamin C so as to recap what can you do to make sure that your iron levels are good in terms of your nutrition.
You want to make sure that you have a healthy diet with healthy iron-rich foods like red meat the seafood these dark leafy greens like spinach, beans, and legumes you may want to avoid things like coffee or tea that tend to affect our iron levels.
What are the best iron food sources to get iron or do we need iron supplements?
Which food has the most iron?
Men need a lot less iron. We’ll come back to this in a minute. How about the same amount of lentils? 15.5 just slightly more almost the same. milk? no iron in milk. Basically zero. How about Chia? a Whopping seventy-seven percent. chia’s got iron for days. Even if you took a much smaller amount just two tablespoons of chia That’s basically one of those little chia puddings that’s almost 20 percent of your iron needs right there.
And that stuff is delicious. So does that mean everybody needs to be eating chia all day? Of course not you can if you want to and they’re fantastic, but you don’t have to because iron is Everywhere, here are chickpeas here’s steamed spinach here’s sesame seeds. This is eggs. And that’s liver Okay I think the point is clear just like we saw with protein before the iron is everywhere and in large amounts.
Which animal or plant foods contain more iron
We can get all the iron we need from animal foods or from plant foods. It’s your choice. So many people are worried about getting enough iron, about iron deficiency iron foods. Iron supplements and yet it’s so abundant. You could almost say it’s ironic, but I’m not gonna say that no puns. I’m gonna keep it professional. Okay, great.
So iron’s abundant plenty of good food sources of iron but so far we’ve only looked at isolated foods what I want to know is at the end of the day after I’ve had all my meals 15 20 different types of food all Mixed do I get all the iron I need in the protein I used this example breakfast oatmeal and a peanut butter sandwich.
Later in the morning handful of almonds Lunch is lentils rice and broccoli with a banana for dessert and dinner is tempeh with mixed veggies okay, that example is all light meals, in fact, it only has about 1,500 calories 2,000 being the ballpark goal for a day so it’s nowhere near a full day of eating yet It already makes out iron needs for women If you’re a man.
You’ve already had two hundred thirty percent of your daily needs and you still have 500 calories to go so finding iron in foods is not a problem So if you like meat and you want to eat it, that’s totally up to you.
But don’t let anybody tell you that you need meat for iron and that if you don’t have a steak You’re gonna be anemic plant foods have boatloads of iron wait Hold on second Fine plants have iron but iron isn’t all created equal isn’t the iron in meat absorbed better like more bioavailable?
TYPES OF IRON
There are two types of iron heme and non-heme. Meat has both types while plant foods like lentils and sesame seeds only have nonheme iron.
For example, vitamin C is a major factor if there’s no vitamin C insight. We can absorb more iron from a meal containing meat than a meal without it. But if vitamin C is present the difference goes away.
Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian sources of food that contain iron
So does that mean if I don’t eat meat I need to eat an orange at every meal to get my iron? not at all Vitamin C is in all kinds of fruits and vegetables a small stalk of broccoli or half a bell pepper Would give you enough vitamin C to get this effect coffee and tea can also influence the absorption of non-heme iron.
But they have the opposite effect of vitamin C instead of helping they block absorption So if you have trouble getting enough iron you may want to have your coffee and tea in between not during meals, Okay, so if heme and non-heme iron are absorbed differently It sounds like the best bet is to just mix it up and have a bit of both, right?
Some steak some lentils the problem is absorption is not their only difference the long-term health effects of heme and non-heme are also Massively different heme iron has been tied to a higher risk of disease over and over again higher risk of cardiovascular disease higher risk of cancer.
Higher risk of diabetes and this seems specific to heme iron the type found in meat how big is the risk? each additional milligram of heme iron consumed daily has been associated with anywhere between 7 and 27 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease Again, that’s per milligram. We need multiple milligrams of iron per day 8 for men 18 for women.
So these studies strongly suggest we lean as much as possible on non-heme to meet our daily requirements and as we’ve seen that isn’t hard at all even light meals with plant foods have plenty of iron.
Studies confirm meat-free diets can actually contain more iron and people who don’t eat meat don’t have a higher risk of iron anemia. So all that iron in the plants is effectively absorbed and utilized.
No problem now all of that said if you’re somebody who has trouble getting enough iron if you suffer from iron deficiency anemia then, of course, you want to work with your doctor and in some cases, a supplement may be justified studies do show huge differences in iron absorption between different people.
So if you have trouble getting enough iron then these little tricks we talked about becoming even more important including veggies with your meals, especially vitamin C-rich ones like broccoli and bell peppers, or sprinkling some lemon on your legumes.
What eating habits to avoid
Avoid having coffee and tea with your meals and you can also consider iron-fortified cereals if you need that extra boost. Playing with all these factors can increase iron absorption by up to 10 times by getting as much as possible of our iron from plant foods.
We’re also getting the healthiest kind of non-heme which helps keep our risk of disease as low as possible. Does not a bad deal see? I kept it professional the whole way through no lame puns didn’t say anything was Ironic didn’t say the issue of iron was a magnet for controversy. None of that lame stuff Just kept it professionally focused just for you I resisted it was hard it was tempting but I resisted it with an iron.