Updated: Jan 15, 2019
Iron does several important functions in the body. We need an adequate level of iron in the body to have a healthy life. Iron deficiency is a common condition that can cause serious health problems.
Iron carries oxygen to produce energy
Oxygen is essential for the life of every cell in the body. When we breathe, the oxygen in the atmospheric air goes into the lungs. From the lungs, the oxygen is transported by the blood throughout the body. Actually haemoglobin, the red pigment found inside the red blood cells do this job.
Then what does iron do?
Well! Iron is a main component of the haemoglobin. One haemoglobin molecule has four iron molecules. The oxygen is temporarily bound to the iron molecule and transported. Without iron, our body cannot produce haemoglobin. Low level of this red substance in the blood is called anaemia.
PLANT-BASED IRON FOODS
Iron is also found in animal meat such as in beef, fish, and poultry.
Here are some examples of foods with a good dose of iron.
Red meats like beef and lamb
Dark meat poultry
Fish including shrimp and oysters
Iron-rich vegetables including dark leafy greens (think Popeye!), baked potatoes, and pumpkin
Beans and legumes like kidney beans, lentils, and channa
So how much Iron do you need?
Infants (6-12months) 11 mg per day
Kids (1-8 years) 7-10mg per day
Adolescents (9-13 years) 8mg per day
Women (14+ years) 15-18mg per day
Men (14+ years) 8-11mg per day
Ensuring that your kids are getting enough iron can seem hard when they’re in a phase of picky eating—or just not eating a lot. But since iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are still common issues with kids and it can impact their development and behaviour, it’s important to try to include iron-rich foods in their daily meals.
Quick Tip for Increased Iron Absorption
If you pair iron-rich foods with produce with plenty of Vitamin C—think citrus, strawberries, kiwi, tomatoes, dark greens, and bell peppers—the iron will be more readily absorbed by the body. Win! Some ideas to consider: Pasta with meat sauce (vitamin C from tomatoes, iron from beef), bean tacos (iron from beans, vitamin C from salsa), Simple Green Smoothie (iron from greens, Vitamin C from fruit).