General Practice 2022

Iron-rich foods (from animal and plant sources)

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Iron-rich foods (from animal and plant sources)
Iron-rich foods (from animal and plant sources)

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

This mineral is important at all stages of life and should be consumed frequently, but its consumption must be increased during pregnancy and old age, when there is a greater need for iron in the body. Good examples of foods rich in iron are red meat, 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 for better absorption.

Table of foods rich in iron

The following table indicates the amount of iron in 100 grams of food of animal origin:

Food Amount of iron (in 100g)
Seafood steamed 22 mg
Boiled Chicken Liver 8, 5 mg
Boiled oysters 8, 5 mg
Boiled turkey liver 7, 8 mg
Grilled beef 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 sardines 1, 3 mg
Canned tuna 1, 3 mg

The iron present in foods from animal sources, present an absorption of iron at the intestinal level between 20 to 30% of the total ingested mineral. While the iron present in foods of vegetable origin allows an absorption of around 5% of the total iron that they have in their composition. For this reason it is important to consume them together with foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, pineapples, strawberries and peppers, as they favor the absorption of this mineral at the intestinal level.

The following table indicates the amount of iron in 100 grams of plant foods:

Food Amount of iron (in 100g)
Pumpkin seeds 14, 9 mg
Pistacho 6, 8 mg
Cocoa powder 5, 8 mg
Dried apricot 5, 8 mg
Tofu 5, 4 mg
Sunflower seeds 5, 1 mg
Raisin 4, 8 mg
Dried coconut 3, 6 mg
Walnut 2, 6 mg
Boiled white beans 2, 5 mg
Raw spinach 2, 4 mg
Peanuts 2, 2 mg
Boiled Chickpeas 2, 1 mg
Boiled Black Beans 1, 5 mg
Cooked lentils 1, 5 mg
Green beans 1, 4 mg
Boiled pumpkin 1, 3 mg
Oat flakes 1, 3 mg
Boiled Peas 1, 1 mg
Raw beets 0.8 mg
Strawberry 0.8 mg
Boiled 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 foods rich in iron for anemia, it is also important to follow other nutrition tips such as:

  • Avoid eating foods rich in calcium with 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 cereals and fiber in whole foods reduce the efficiency of absorption of iron present in foods;
  • Avoid eating sweets, red wine, chocolate and some herbs to make tea, because they contain 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 into juices can also be an excellent way to enrich your diet with iron. Two great iron-rich recipes are pineapple juice blended in a blender with fresh parsley and beef liver with onions. Meet some fruits rich in iron.

See the video below for some tips to treat anemia faster and help improve iron absorption:

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 Iron Need
Babies: 7-12 months 11 mg
Children: 1-3 years old 7 mg
Children: 4-8 years old 10 mg
Boys and Girls: 9-13 years old 8 mg
Boys: 14-18 years old 11 mg
Girls: 14-18 years old 15 mg
Men: >19 years 8 mg
Women: 19-50 years old 18 mg
Women: > 50 years old 8 mg
Pregnant 27 mg
Nurses: < 18 years old 10 mg
Nurses: > 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 during pregnancy, which should always be advised by a doctor.

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