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What is Iron ????

Are you tired of being tired all the time ?? Especially during the cycle of the month .... Lets learn more about iron and find solution to this issue...

Every living cell – whether plant or animal contains iron. Most of the iron in the body is a component of the protein hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle cells. The iron in both hemoglobin and myoglobin helps them carry and hold oxygen and then release it.
Hemoglobin in the blood carries oxygen from the lungs to tissues through out the body. Myoglobin holds oxygen for the muscles to use when they contract.

Iron is vital to the processes by which cells generate energy. Iron is also needed to make new cells amino acids, hormones and neurotransmitters. Normally, only about 10-15% of dietary iron is absorbed. But if the body supply is diminished or if need for increase is observed like in pregnancy absorption increases. The blood protein transferrin carries the iron to tissues throughout the body.

Worldwide iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency affecting more than one billion people. Women are prone to iron deficiency during reproduction years because of blood losses during mensuration. Pregnancy places further iron demands on women.

Men need 8 milligrams of iron each day.
Recommendation for women during childbearing years is 18 milligrams per day.
Iron occurs in heme and non-heme form in food. Iron in heme form is more absorbable than the non-heme form. Heme iron is found in meat, poultry and fish. Most of the iron people consume is non-heme from vegetable and grains.

Iron absorption from foods can be both enhanced and inhibited by various dietary factors. Vitamin C eaten in same meal doubles or triples non-heme iron absorption. Research has shown that consuming approx. ½ cup of any fruit juice in a meal increases absorption of iron from food consumed in same meal. Additionally, cooking in iron skillet can contribute iron to the diet.

Some substances ruin iron absorption : the tannins from tea and coffee, the calcium in milk, the phytates that supplement fiber in legumes and whole grain cereals. Fortunately, natural processing that happens to food products like soaking beans and fermenting soy products helps reduce the inhibitory effects of many of these factors.

Adding Iron in your diet:

  • Using whole grain, enriched and fortified product.
  • Eating drak green leafy vegetables.
  • Dried fruits such as raisins, apricots, preaches and prunes are high in iron.
  • Eating vitamin C rich fruits often with iron containing foods.
  • Not overdoing on dairy group.
  • Adding Fish and poultry to diet.

Dietary Factors that Enhance Iron absorption

FactorsSourceVitamin CCitrus fruits and juices, melons, berries, pineapples, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, potatoes.Citric, malic and tartaric acidFruits, vegetables, and vinegarsSpecific food processing methodsLeavening and baking bread, soaking and sprouting beans, grains and seeds, fermentation process,MPF factorMFP (Meat, poultry and fish) enhances absorption of non-heme iron from other foods eaten at same time in addition to providing heme iron.

Foods and Factors that affect iron absorption

FoodHindering FactorEnhancing factorBran, While grains, legumes, nuts and seedsPhytatesLeavening and baking bread, soaking and sprouting beans, grains and seedsSoy productsSoy(phytate or protein)Fermentation process for making some soy foods(miso, tempeh.), coagulation with gluconic acid derivative in making silken style tofu.Tea,coffeePolyphenolsCalcium rich antacids, calcium phosphates, supplementsCalcium, zinc and other minerals

Approximate iron content of selected plant food

FoodPortionIron(mg)Grain Equivalents Bread, enriched1 slice or 1 oz0.7-1.2Bread, Whole wheat1 slice0.8Cereal, ready to eat fortified1 serving2.0-2.4Brown rice1 cup cooked1.0Oatmeal1 cup cooked1.6Pasta enriched1 oz uncooked0.7-1.2Vegetables and LegumesBeet Greens1 cup cooked2.7Black beans1 cup cooked3.6Broccoli1 cup cooked1.1Brussels sprouts1 cup cooked0.7Cabbage Chinese(bok choy)1 cup cooked1.8Collard greens1 cup cooked2.2Chickpeas(garbanzo beans)1 cup cooked4.6Kale1 cup1.2Lentils1 cup cooked6.6Mustard greens1 cup cooked1.2Peas green1 cup cooked2.4Pinto beans1 cup cooked3.6Potato1 medium baked2.2Red Kidney beans1 cup cooked5.2Sothern Peas(black eye)1 cup cooked4.3Soybeans1 cup cooked8.8Sweet potato1 medium baked1.1Tofu(firm)½ cup3.4Tofu(regular)½ cup6.7Tomato1 cup raw0.5Turnip greens1 cup cooked1.2Winter squash1 cup cooked0.9-1.4FruitsApricots5 halves0.9Raisins¼ cup0.7Raspberries, frozen1 cup1.6Strawberries5 large0.4Watermelon1 wedge0.7FoodAlmonds1 oz1.2Cashews1 oz1.7Peanuts1 oz0.6Pecans1 oz0.7Pine nuts1 oz1.6Pumpkin nuts1 oz4.2Sunflower seeds1 oz1.1Tahini1 tbsp1.3Walnuts1 oz0.8

Sources: Data from the USDA National nutrient database for standard reference. Available at
Nutrition and Diet Therapy –Bruyne, Pinna and Whitney
Vegetarian sports Nutrition – Enette Larson-Meyer