Does your healthy diet include a proper intake of Iron?

Does your Diet include a Proper Intake of Iron?

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When we talk about a healthy diet, complete nutrients, and body growth we always end up saying not having a healthy routine. Besides, consuming all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fibers as a good diet, “does your body is absorbing all necessary nutrients in the right amount”? To know the answer read the complete blog. Here we are going to discuss the proper intake of iron for our body and why iron absorption is so important?

Role of Iron in Our Body

Iron is a mineral that exists as the heme compound hemoglobin that is 2 g of iron in men and 1.5 g in women(approximate rate), that mainly helps in transport and storage of oxygen, assist immunity-boosting, and contributes to the enzyme systems.

Iron is considered a protein in red blood cells(hemoglobin) which carries oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body. Other than that:

  • Iron helps to convert blood sugar to energy.
  • Iron is a key function for various cells and hormones.
  • Helps enzyme systems that involve in collagen and elastin production.
  • It boosts the immune system.
  • In children, iron plays the major component in healthy brain development and growth.

If there is a lack of iron, then the body leads to fatigue and tiredness. A doctor may sometimes, check blood levels of two components of iron (ferritin- stored in the body; transferrin- that form of iron which is delivered to various parts of the body) if Anemia is suspected.

Guide to know Iron-Rich Food!

There are varieties of food from either plant or animal sources to enjoy dietary iron as per the requirement. Before that, you may know that the average adult male requires about 8 milligrams of iron per day, and a woman who is still having her periods needs about 18 milligrams of iron per day. If you don’t get enough iron, you may feel fatigued and could end up with iron deficiency anemia. Therefore, to boost the intake of iron, then always try adding below mentioned foods to your regular diet.

Type of Iron Sources

Iron sources for Non-vegetarian – Red Meat, poultry, and seafood which are considered to be the richest heme iron. On the average people absorb between 15-35% of heme iron is consumed (sources- Insel et al 2003).

For Vegetarian – Non-heme iron is found in plant foods, fortified grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, milk and meat contains non-heme iron.

Heme Iron vs Non-heme Iron

The bioavailability of iron is not natural, it depends on certain factors. A person who is iron-replete can absorb iron easily than a person with iron deficiency.

The body absorbs Heme iron is better than non-heme iron. Vitamin C and non-heme iron consumed together as a meal will improve the chances to absorb non-heme iron. Moreover, sources of non-heme iron often contain phytates, which bind with iron and carry it through the digestive tract unabsorbed.

Sources of heme Iron:- Oysters, clams, mussels, Beef, chicken, organ meat, canned sardines, beef, poultry, canned light tuna.

Sources of non-heme Iron:- Fortified breakfast cereals, beans, dark chocolate (at least 45%), lentils, spinach, potato with skin, nuts, seeds, enriched rice, bread

As a result, food that includes a high amount of iron content doesn’t mean is the best source of iron. For example, soybean is said to have twice the iron of beef. But in reality, if we dug it deeply we came to know that only 7% of iron from soybean is absorbed. Similarly, Spinach is high in iron, but only 2% of iron is absorbed when it is cooked.

Why Iron Absorption is Important?

When we go back to the Paleolithic, iron deficiency was probably uncommon(Eaton et al 1999). Just because Paleolithic keep their diet flourished with animal muscle tissue, plant-based sources of iron, and food rich in vitamin C.

Unfortunately, nowadays people around the world are found to be iron deficient. They can improve their intake of iron status by changing their diets. Now the point is, How does this work? Keep reading this blog I have given an overview of iron absorption “the factors that will enhance it or upgrade it and the substances that inhabit it”.

Enhance the Intake of Iron Absorption

It is clear that non-heme iron is literally found to harder to absorb. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

All you need is a way to improve the body absorption of non-heme iron. And you can finally do this by adding one or more of these iron absorption enhancers to your meals:

  1. Vitamin C- It is particularly effective. A report study says by adding just 63 mg of Vitamin C to a meal(non-heme) iron yielding a 2.9 fold increase in iron absorption.
  2. Vitamin A – A study found that the presence of vitamin A increased the absorption by up to 200% for rice, 80% for wheat, and 140% for corn.
  3. Beta carotene – In a similar study, adding beta-carotene to the meal increased the absorption by more than 300% for rice and 180% for wheat and corn.
  4. Meat- It also makes a big difference. Adding 50-85 gm of meat to a meal results in a 1.5-4 fold increase in iron absorption.
  5. Beef- Much effective than the other meats. Its protein-enhanced iron absorption is 80% better than chicken protein. (Hurrell 2006).

What is Iron Absorption Inhibitors?

Iron inhibitors are the substances that inhibit the absorption of the intake of iron. Food like egg proteins phytic acid(found in grains, legumes, other plant foods), minerals (such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, and copper), tannic acid( found in tea), certain herbs (peppermint and chamomile), coffee, cocoa, fiber. These food items play as iron inhibitors.

Basically, you need to avoid these food items when you are taking iron-rich food. For example, people absorb much less amount of iron from bread if their meal includes egg protein, tea, herbs, or coffee. Also, intake of calcium interferes with the absorption of iron.

Phytates, which are found in plant-based foods can react negatively to iron absorption by reducing it to up to 80%. But including Vitamin C with a meal can counteract the effect. 

A study proofs that an iron deficiency anemia person consumes vitamin C supplements twice a day- 100 mg at each of two phytates-rich meals. After two months it was found to be no longer anemic. It is hilarious to know!!


[It’s not desirable to cut these out of your child’s diet as your child needs calcium, zinc, phosphorus, and fiber. However, if your child is suffering from iron deficiency, it is advisable that do avoid these food items before, during, or after a meal that contains iron-rich food.]


A proper intake of iron and iron absorption is very important for maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, and overall body development. Make sure you are getting enough iron not less, not more.

After learning the complete knowledge of iron-rich food and why iron absorption is important for our health. It is better to eat right at right time including the right selection of food components in your meal. Iron deficiency occurs only if the intake of iron is not absorbed properly. Increase the absorption by adding Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Beta-Carotene. Make good relationships with your food to make it more healthy and tasty.

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