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Good Sources of Iron in Diet for Optimum Nutritional Health - Heme, Non-Heme, Anemia - Red Blood Cells - Healthy Diet

Best Food Sources of Iron

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Good Dietary Sources of Iron

Iron intake is only one element in ensuring adequate iron levels. Absorption is also critical. How much we absorb depends on the type of dietary iron eaten, as well as the presence/absence of other nutrients.

Absorption of Heme and Non-Heme Dietary Iron

Iron in food comes in 2 forms - heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron exists only in animal foods, whilst plant foods contain only non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is less easily absorbed by the body than heme iron. Absorption varies from about 1-10 percent (plant foods) to 10-20 percent (animal food).

Non-Heme Iron Absorption

(1) When vitamin C from orange juice, cauliflower, dark leafy vegetables, tomatoes or citrus fruit is consumed with non-heme iron-rich food, absorption can be increased by 600 percent. Eating foods containing malic acid (e.g. in pumpkins, plums and apples) may also boost iron-absorption. This may be one reason why recent surveys of vegans have shown that iron deficiency is no more common among vegans than in the rest of the population.

(2) Cooking plant foods in an iron pot or skillet, also increases iron uptake.

Good Sources of Heme Iron

- Clams, oysters, cockles, winkles
- Pig's liver
- Beef kidney, heart, liver
- Sardines
- Lean beef
- Chicken
- Egg yolks
- Corned beef

Good Sources of Non-Heme Iron

- Yeast
- Black molasses
- Marmite
- Wheatgerm
- Brazil nuts
- Cocoa powder
- Dark green vegetables: eg. broccoli, collards, kale
- Legumes: eg. lentils, red beans
- Fortified breakfast cereals
- Dried fruits (apricots, figs)
- Asparagus

Iron Supplements Needed During Pregnancy

Although vegetarians do not need to take iron supplements, guidelines from the U.S. government state that additional iron requirements in pregnancy cannot be met through diet alone and should be attained through supplements containing iron.

Nutrition Resources About Iron

Recommended Daily Allowance
Health & Weight Benefits

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