Table of Contents
Iron rich foods- Guess the name of the one liquid that runs through the minutest part of your body, through your cells and tissues and works as a transporting agent for oxygen and nutrients in the body? It doesn’t require a genius to know that I’m mentioning here about Blood. Not only does blood carry oxygen and nutrients to different parts of the body, it collects carbon dioxide and waste materials from these cells and tissues and evicts them out of the body by transporting these to the correct place. Now, ever wondered where we get the blood red shade of this liquid? It is imparted by the Red Blood cells which constitutes the most important part of the blood composition. These are the cells that transport oxygen to different parts of the body, again not to be repetitive, but this oxygen travels to the smallest cell of our body. When red blood cells are further broken down under a microscope, are made up of hemoglobin. And this hemoglobin is nothing but the gift provided to our blood by the nutrient-IRON!
So, a lack of iron means less of hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin is directly associated to the lack of the Red Blood Cells (RBCs) to carry the oxygenated blood from the lungs to the different parts of the body. A deficiency of RBCs leads to a medical condition called anemia.
Now, we’ve got a brief background of why iron is important for our bodies. Let’s get a little deeper into the varying levels of requirements for different sections of people.
Requirement of Iron Rich Foods-
Pregnancy phase is one with a lot of activities taking place inside the body of the woman. The baby is busy evolving stage by stage, week by week. In order to maintain optimal pace of evolution and to ensure adequate development, a lot of nutritional food is required to be eaten by the mother. Apart from all the other nutrients, it becomes most important that the intake of iron is multiplied two-fold while the baby is inside the mother. Yes, you read it right, a pregnant woman requires nearly double the amount of iron than a non-expecting woman. Not only during the pregnancy phase, iron is essential even after the delivery as the body of the mother has gone through a huge transformation after delivering a life! The blood loss during delivery needs to be compensated for by consuming iron-rich food.
The growth years of children are pivotal in framing their health and immunity for their entire life. In these years, it is important that they are provided with proper nutrition. Iron plays a very important role during this phase. A deficiency of iron in their diet could cause various problems like cognitive and motor difficulties, inability to concentrate, reduced physical activities, lethargy, etc. A chronic deficiency may also lead to the problem of anemia.
It is indeed easy to recognize the symptoms of iron deficiency as it has a direct control over the amount of hemoglobin present in the blood. If you see your child’s skin turning pale, his hands are not as red as they must be while pressed, on pulling the skin at the bottom of their eye, the area inside is pale instead of red. These signs are grandma’s secrets to identify the deficiency. However, inorder that you confirm your physical signs and symptoms, it is advisable that you get a test for the same prescribed from your doctor.
The girls attaining puberty are new to the menstrual cycles. These fresh changes in the body are as a result of various hormonal reactions. As such, during the menstrual cycles, the main shedding are that of the inner lining formed in the walls of the uterus. However, some amount of blood is also lost. In order that these young girls can keep up with these changes, it is important that they consume adequate amount of iron rich foods for nutrition.
However, I find it important to mention here that it is equally necessary that people of all age groups and genders keep up with their iron levels. To help you with that, here’s a list of iron rich foods that you must make sure are included in your diet.
17 Best Iron Rich Foods-
All green, leafy vegetables are rich in iron. But spinach deserves a special mention here. Remember your favourite cartoon Popeye-the sailor man. He would consume one can full of spinach which was always kept handy for revitalizing his energy levels. As soon as he gulped down a can, he would be ready to beat all the villains for his lady love. Well, this was depicted in such a way for a reason. The reason being to encourage young kids and associate spinach with the idea of instant energy because spinach happens to be extremely beneficial to beat the needs of iron in the body. You can check out various recipes of Spinach as well.
When consumed raw, they provide lesser amount of iron than when consumed in its paste or concentrated form. It contains Vitamin C which enables the body to absorb the iron.
The next time you consume potatoes, make sure you do not peel them off. The peel of the potatoes is the one that contains a lot of iron. one large, unpeeled potato (10.5 ounces or 295 grams) provides 3.2 mg of iron.
White mushrooms and oyster mushrooms provide good amount of iron to the body in just a cup of consumption.
Apart from being rich source of iron, prunes are also great for consumption for constipation related problems. Prune juice provides 3 mg of iron per cup.
Olives also do a commendable job at providing iron to our body. They provide around 3.5mg of iron per 100 grams of consumption.
They have a particularly impressive nutritional value with about 2.6mg of iron per cup. The same quantity provides 85% of Vitamin C to the body.
We cannot afford to miss out the contribution of apples in this regard. It has a high content of iron and thus turns red when left bitten into fresh air. The iron is the apple instantly reacts with the oxygen of the environment and thus makes it turn into red.
Lentils also provide proteins, vitamins, complex carbs, folate, manganese along with iron. Cooked lentils contain 18 grams of iron per bowl of consumption. Thus, eating cooked lentils would cover around 40% of your requirement of iron intake.
They are excellent source of fiber which may not be disputed at all. Oats also provide nearly 25-30% of iron on consumption of one full bowl.
All kinds of meat including lamb, pork, chicken and beef are an excellent source of iron. In order to enhance the absorption, you may include vitamin C with these foods. Vitamin C provided by orange or lemon juice will ensure optimal absorption of iron into our body.
14. Sea Foods
Fishes like the oysters, sardines, clamps and shrimps are a great source of iron. They are also free of mercury traces which are often found in other fishes. Prawns, which are akin to shrimps also provide a good amount of iron.
15. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a great source of iron. 100 gm of dark chocolate contains 8mg iron. The iron content helps to treat iron deficiency and improves blood haemoglobin.
16. Sesame Seeds
In a 100 gram amount of dried sesame seeds, it has energy of approximate value 550 to 570 calories. Out of this 14.6 mg is iron which is a good intake. Sesame seeds can be used for cooking or frying like other vegetable cooking oil or olive oil.
Cucumbers belong to the gourd family and are made up of more than 90% water. They are rich in various minerals and ions like: Magnesium, Iron (28mg per 100gm), Manganese, Potassium, Zinc, Sodium, Phosphorus. They are high in fiber too.
COMPLETE BLOOD CELL TEST:
In order to detect iron deficiency, doctors recommend the Complete Blood Cell (CBC) test. The measures of the following fells are examined under a microscope in this test:
- White Blood Cells
- Red Blood Cells
It is helpful in diagnosing anemia in our body. A normal hematocrit range is 34.9 to 44.5 percent for adult women and 38.8 to 50 percent for adult men. The normal hemoglobin range is 12.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter for an adult woman and 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter for an adult man. In iron deficiency anemia, the hematocrit and hemoglobin levels are low. Also, RBCs are usually smaller in size than normal.
As is rightly said that “Prevention is better than cure”, it becomes our prime responsibility to ensure that we eat a balanced diet and especially one rich in iron from our childhood. This must be done to ensure that children do not have to encounter the complications of the deficiency while they are preparing for the competitive world and need the most of energy in their growth years. For adults, try to supplement your dietary deficiency with food instead of medicines. Take advice from your doctor about the same. Stay Healthy, Stay Happy!