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Iron is an important mineral for the formation of blood cells and helps transport oxygen. Thus, when there is a lack of iron, the person presents symptoms such as tiredness, weakness, lack of energy and difficulty in concentrating.

This mineral is important in all stages of life and must be consumed frequently, but it is necessary to increase its consumption during pregnancy and in old age, moments when there is a greater need for iron in the body. Good examples of iron-rich foods are red meats, black beans, and barley bread, for example.

There are 2 types of iron, heme iron: present in red meat, and non-heme iron present in vegetables. The iron present in meat is better absorbed, while the iron in vegetables needs the consumption of a source of vitamin C to have better absorption.

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Table of foods rich in iron

Here is a table with foods rich in iron separated by animal and vegetable sources:

Amount of iron in food of animal origin per 100 g 
Steamed clams 22 mg 
Cooked chicken liver 8,5 mg 
Baked oysters 8,5 mg 
Cooked turkey liver 7,8 mg 
Grilled cow liver 5,8 mg 
Chicken egg yolk 5,5 mg 
Beef 3,6 mg 
Grilled fresh tuna 2,3 mg 
Whole chicken egg 2,1 mg 
Lamb 1,8 mg 
Grilled sardine 1,3 mg 
Canned tuna 1,3 mg 

The iron present in food from animal sources, has an absorption of iron at the intestinal level between 20 to 30% of the total mineral ingested. While the iron present in foods of plant origin allows an absorption of around 5% of the total iron they have in its composition. For this reason it is important to consume them with foods rich in vitamin C, such as orange, pineapple, strawberries and peppers, because it favors the absorption of this mineral at the intestinal level.

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Amount of iron in food of plant origin per 100 g 
Pumpkin seeds 14,9 mg 
pistachio 6,8 mg 
Cocoa powder 5,8 mg 
Dry Damascus 5,8 mg 
Tofu 5,4 mg 
Sunflower seeds 5,1 mg 
raisin 4,8 mg 
Dried coconut 3,6 mg 
Noz 2,6 mg 
Baked white bean  2,5 mg 
Spinach raw 2,4 mg 
peanut 2,2 mg 
Cooked chickpeas 2,1 mg 
Baked black bean 1,5 mg 
Baked lentils 1,5 mg 
Green beans 1,4 mg 
Baked pumpkin 1,3 mg 
Flaked oats 1,3 mg 
Baked pea 1,1 mg 
Raw beetroot 0,8 mg 
strawberry 0,8 mg 
Cooked broccoli 0,5 mg 
Blackberry 0,6 mg 
Banana 0,4 mg 
chard 0,3 mg 
avocado 0,3 mg 
cherry 0,3 mg 

Tips to improve iron absorption

In addition to iron-rich foods for anemia, it is also important to follow other eating tips such as:

Avoid eating calcium-rich foods with your main meals, such as yogurt, pudding, milk or cheese because calcium is a natural inhibitor of iron absorption

Avoid eating whole foods at lunch and dinner, as the phytates present in the cereals and fibers of whole foods, decrease the efficiency of the absorption of iron present in foods

Avoid eating sweets, red wine, chocolate and some herbs to make tea, because they have polyphenols and phytates, which are inhibitors of iron absorption;
Cooking in an iron pan is a way to increase the amount of iron in poor foods, such as rice, for example

Mixing fruits and vegetables in juices can also be an excellent way to enrich the iron diet. Two great iron-rich recipes are pineapple juice blended in a blender with fresh parsley and liver steak

Daily iron requirement

The daily need for iron, as shown in the table, varies according to age and gender, as women have a greater need for iron than men, especially during pregnancy.

age group Daily Need for Iron 
Babies: 7-12 months 11 mg 
Children: 1-3 years 7 mg 
Children: 4-8 years 10 mg 
Boys and Girls: 9-13 years 8 mg 
Boys: 14-18 years old 11 mg 
Girls: 14-18 years old 15 mg 
Men: >19 years old 8 mg 
Women: 19-50 years 18 mg 
Women: > 50 years 8 mg 
Pregnant 27 mg 
Nursing: < 18 years old 10 mg 
Nursing: > 19 years old 9 mg 

Daily iron requirements increase in pregnancy because the amount of blood in the body increases and, therefore, iron is needed to produce more blood cells, just as iron is necessary for the development of the baby and the placenta. Meeting iron requirements during pregnancy is very important, but iron supplementation may be necessary in pregnancy, which should always be advised by your doctor.

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