This is a mineral found in every cell of the body.
What is it: A common metal that's essential to nearly all life forms.
Why you need it: Key for oxygen transport, cell growth, and immunity.
It's considered an essential mineral because it's needed to make part of blood cells.
The human body needs this mineral to make the oxygen-carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin.
Hemoglobin is found in red blood cells and myoglobin is found in muscles.
It also makes up part of many proteins in the body.
The best sources include:
Chicken liver (3.5 oz., 100 calories) 70 % daily value
Soybeans (1 c., 297 calories) 50 % d.v.
Spinach (1 c., 40 calories) 36 % d.v.
Tofu (4 oz., 86 calories) 34 % d.v.
Sesame seeds (1/4 c., 205 calories) 30 % d.v.
Kidney beans (1 c., 225 calories) 29 % d.v.
Venison (4 oz., 180 calories) 28 % d.v.
Lima beans (1 c., 215 calories) 25 % d.v.
Beef tenderloin (4 oz., 240 calories) 23 % d.v.
Roast turkey (3.5 oz., 220 calories) 10 % d.v.
Reasonable amounts are also found in lamb, pork, and shellfish.
But, this mineral from vegetables, fruits, grains and supplements is harder for the body to absorb.
These sources include:
dried beans and peas
If you mix some lean meat, fish, or poultry with beans or dark leafy greens at a meal, you can improve absorption of vegetable sources of this mineral up to three times.
Foods rich in vitamin-C also increase the absorption.
And conversely, some foods reduce absorption.
For example, commercial black or pekoe teas contain substances that bind to iron so it can't be used by the body.
The human body stores some iron to replace any that is lost.
However, low levels over a long period of time can lead to deficiency anemia.
Symptoms include lack of energy, shortness of breath, headache, irritability, dizziness, or weight loss.
Those at risk for low levels include:
Women who are menstruating, especially if they have heavy periods.
Women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby.
People with any type of bleeding in the intestines (for example, a bleeding ulcer).
People who frequently donate blood.
People with gastrointestinal conditions that make it hard to absorb nutrients from food.
Babies and young children are at risk for low levels if they do not receive the appropriate foods.
Babies moving to solid foods should eat iron-rich foods.
Infants are born with enough to last about six months.
An infant's additional needs are met by breast milk.
Infants that are not breastfed should be given a supplement or fortified infant formula.
Children between age 1 and 4 grow quickly, which uses up iron in the body.
They should be given iron-fortified foods or supplements.
*** Note: Milk is a very poor source of this mineral.
Children who drink large quantities of milk and avoid other foods may develop "milk anemia."
Recommended milk intake is two to three cups per day for toddlers.
Adolescents are more prone to low levels because of rapid growth rates and inconsistent eating habits.
The genetic disorder called hemochromatosis affects the body's ability to control how much is absorbed and this leads to too much in the body.
Treatment consists of a low-iron diet, no supplements, and phlebotomy (blood removal) on a regular basis.
It's unlikely that a person would take too much, however, children can sometimes develop iron poisoning by swallowing too many supplements.
Symptoms of Poisoning Include:
Shortness of breath
Grayish color to the skin
See: National Poison Control center
The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following:
Infants & Children
Younger than 6 months: 0.27 milligrams per day (mg/day)
7 months to 1 year: 11 mg/day
1 to 3 years: 7 mg/day
4 to 8 years: 10 mg/day
9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day
14 to 18 years: 11 mg/day
Age 19 and older: 8 mg/day
9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day
14 to 18 years: 15 mg/day
19 to 50 years: 18 mg/day
51 and older: 8 mg/day
Women who are pregnant or producing breast milk may need different amounts of this mineral.
Ask your health care provider what is appropriate for you.
If you're wondering what to prepare for dinner this evening, may we suggest;
Halibut with Ginger & Scallions
If you want a great, time saving meal, that you can get from the refrigerator to the table in just 20 minutes, you'll love this Asian-inspired recipe for halibut.
The omega-3 fatty acids from the halibut help to reduce inflammation and the shiitake mushrooms not only enhance the flavor of this recipe but add a rich source of iron as well.
Prep and Cook Time: 20 Minutes
3/4 lb. halibut cut into 2 steaks
1/4 c. light vegetable broth
1/4 c. mirin rice wine
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 c. fresh Shitake mushrooms, sliced 1/4" thick
1 c. coarsely chopped scallion
Sea salt and fresh ground white pepper to taste
Chop garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out their health-promoting properties.
Bring the broth and Mirin wine to a simmer on medium high heat in a 10 inch skillet.
Add garlic, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, scallion, and mushrooms.
Place halibut steaks on top, reduce heat to low and cover.
Cook for about 5 minutes, depending on how thick the steaks are.
Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Remove steaks and place on a plate.
Spoon scallion, mushroom broth over fish and serve.
Makes 2 ServingsTweet
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