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What is the largest amount of iron?

Iron is an important trace element needed by all living organisms. It helps synthesize collagen and serotonin, supports the functioning of the immune system and is involved in metabolic processes [1]. But the main function of iron is cellular respiration. This trace element is part of hemoglobin, the protein that makes up red blood cells. It is iron that helps blood cells bind oxygen and deliver it to tissues, and then remove waste carbon dioxide from the body. By the way, it also colors the blood red. Our body is not able to produce iron on its own. He gets it from food, so it is important that his diet be varied. There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. The former is absorbed more efficiently [2]. It can be found in meat, fish and seafood. The source of the second is plant foods. Here is a list of foods with the highest levels of both types of iron. Including them in the diet will help replenish microelement reserves. © Ella Olsson/Pexels

Daily iron intake

Women aged 19–50 need iron the most. They need to receive at least 18 mg of microelement per day. During pregnancy, the need for it increases to 27 mg. Adolescents 14–18 years old also require increased iron levels: girls – 15 mg, boys – 11 mg. The average daily iron intake for adult men and older adults of both sexes is 8 mg [3]. It increases significantly with intense sports, regular heavy physical activity and heavy menstruation.

Foods high in iron

1. Shellfish

Almost all types of shellfish are rich in iron. Thus, one hundred-gram serving of oysters contains about 3 mg of iron, which is 17% of the daily requirement [4]. Additionally, this amount also provides 24% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C and 4% of the Daily Value for Vitamin B12. Shellfish are also low in calories, high in protein, and increase levels of “good” cholesterol, which prevents heart disease.

2. Offal

Liver, kidneys, brain, heart, stomachs and other offal contain large amounts of iron. Although not everyone likes their taste, by-products are often superior to meat in terms of nutritional content. For example, to get 36% of the daily value of iron and meet the daily requirement for vitamin A, it is enough to eat just 100 g of beef liver [5]. In addition, offal is a good source of protein, copper, selenium and choline, which is important for the liver.

3. Red meat

It is the main source of easily digestible heme iron. Moreover, the darker the meat, the more of this microelement it contains. One 2,7-gram steamed ground beef patty contains 15 mg of iron. This fulfills the daily requirement by 6% [100]. Meat is also a source of protein, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. But poultry is not so rich in iron: in 0,7 g of turkey its content does not exceed 7 mg [XNUMX]. © Andrijana Bozic/Unsplash

4. Spinach

Such a rich set of nutrients as in spinach is rare. It contains folate, lutein, beta-carotene, calcium, vitamins A and E. In addition, 100 g of the product replenishes 15% of the daily iron requirement. It is non-heme, but is quite well absorbed due to the high concentration of vitamin C in spinach. Doctors advise boiling the leaves a little – this will help reduce the amount of oxalic acid, which interferes with the absorption of iron [8]. But keep in mind: 100g of fresh spinach is a big bag. It is designed for several people, and it is hardly possible to eat it at once. In addition, spinach tends to accumulate nitrates, which are often used when growing it. Buy the product from trusted farm stores or in special organic packaging. Or try growing it yourself – on the windowsill. In winter, instead of fresh spinach, you can take frozen spinach: all its beneficial properties and taste are preserved.

5. Legumes

This is a real must-have for vegetarians and vegans. Legumes are one of the best plant sources of iron. Chickpeas, peas, lentils, beans, soybeans – choose what you like. One cup of cooked lentils contains 6,6 mg of iron. This is 37% of the daily value [9]. And half a glass of boiled beans is enough to fill 10% of the daily requirement for the element [10]. In addition, legumes provide a feeling of fullness for a long time and help reduce calorie intake [11].

6. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds can be a snack option. 100 g of product contains 9 mg of iron, or half the daily recommended amount [12]. But you can’t get carried away with them. First, it can cause gastrointestinal problems. Secondly, pumpkin seeds are very nutritious. A 559-gram serving provides the body with XNUMX kcal. To boost your iron levels without harming your health, add a small handful of seeds to your salad, porridge or soup.

7. Quinoa

South American grains are often used as a substitute for gluten-containing grains. Add 100 g of boiled seeds to your favorite salad to replenish 8% of your daily iron requirement [13]. Unlike traditional grains, quinoa is high in protein, containing essential amino acids [14]. Interestingly, our body perceives quinoa as protein from cow’s milk. © Engin Akyurt/Pexels

8. Broccoli

A diet rich in broccoli helps improve vision, reduce inflammation and slow down aging. Broccoli cleanses the body, removes cholesterol and excess sugar. Use it as a side dish—a cup of cooked broccoli provides 6% of your daily iron requirement [15]. To get the most benefits, steam the broccoli for no longer than 5 minutes. This will help preserve vitamin C.

9. Tofu

The production of tofu is similar to the process of making cheese from milk, which is why many people call it soy cheese. In terms of its nutritional properties, it is almost as good as dairy products, which is why vegans and people with lactose intolerance love it. 100 g of tofu cheese contains 17 g of protein, which is easily and quickly absorbed by the body. In addition, the same amount of product helps cover 15% of the daily iron requirement [16].

10. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate not only brings pleasure and stimulates the production of the “happiness hormone”, but also helps normalize iron levels. Give preference to chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa [17]. Nutritionists advise eating no more than a quarter of a chocolate bar per day. This will be enough to compensate for 17% of the daily iron requirement, improve intestinal microflora and improve your mood. © Dovile Ramoskaite/Unsplash

Why is iron deficiency dangerous?

At first, iron deficiency usually occurs without symptoms. But if you do not replenish its reserves on time, you can provoke the development of iron deficiency anemia [18]. Its main symptoms are: weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, pallor, drowsiness, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat and headaches [19]. There may be a desire to eat something inedible – chalk, clay, paper or ice. With a lack of iron, cells begin to “suffocate”, which is why many vital metabolic processes in the body are disrupted. Iron deficiency also contributes to decreased immunity and a high risk of infections [20]. It is also one of the causes of hair loss. The trace element is responsible for the delivery of oxygen to the follicles, thereby strengthening and nourishing the roots. If it is deficient, hair becomes dry and weak and may begin to fall out [21]. Other external signs include: ulcers in the corners of the mouth, dry skin, brittle peeling nails. According to a study by Japanese scientists, in some cases, depression occurs with a lack of iron [22]. © Engin Akyurt/Pexels If you notice signs of iron deficiency, seek help from your doctor. He will order blood tests, determine the source of the problem and be able to create a treatment plan based on your individual characteristics.

Expert Commentary

Evgenia Mayevskaya, PhD, gastroenterologist and nutritionist GMS Clinic How often should you take a blood test in order to find out about iron deficiency in time? The frequency depends on many factors: general health, clinical signs of obvious or hidden deficiency, being at risk for iron deficiency or the presence of chronic diseases, including the gastrointestinal tract. For a potentially healthy person, it is enough to monitor blood counts once every six months. However, a general analysis is not enough. At a minimum, it should be supplemented by testing for serum iron and ferritin, otherwise signs of latent deficiency may be missed. In some cases, a more rare test is needed – for soluble transferrin receptors. This can only be determined by a doctor. Is it possible to compensate for iron deficiency only through plant foods? What to advise vegetarians and vegans? Treatment of anemia using iron in food products alone is impossible due to its low content and low bioavailability. Anemia can only be treated with iron supplements. Vegetarians and vegans should eat as varied a diet as possible, be sure to include plant sources of iron in their diet, such as seaweed. If permissible, then shrimp, mussels and sea fish can serve as a good source of iron. It is better for vegetarians to undergo examination and make sure that there is no atrophy in the stomach or problems in the intestines. With atrophy and insufficient acidity of the stomach, the transition of non-heme iron from plant foods to the digestible heme form is significantly hindered, which means it will not be absorbed. What to do if a person notices symptoms of iron deficiency? At the first symptoms of iron deficiency, you should consult a doctor. It is important not only to correct the deficiency, but also, most importantly, to identify its cause. It is impossible to do this on your own. What is dangerous about excess iron in the body? The so-called iron overload is certainly dangerous. It can lead to damage to internal organs, fibrosis in organs and tissues. There is also evidence of direct damage to the genetic apparatus of cells. Most often the liver, pancreas and myocardium are affected – this manifests itself in the form of toxic cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias. This situation is more likely with parenteral or enteral uncontrolled administration of iron. Diet cannot in any way be the cause of excess iron. According to WHO, iron deficiency (Fe) is the main and most common nutritional disorder throughout the world: in approximately 30% of women from 15 to 49 years of age, the lack of microelements is so great that it manifests itself as anemia (anemia) [1] . As a rule, the reason lies in an unbalanced diet, poor in this microelement. And due to the enormous influence of the mineral on the body, its deficiency quickly affects health. From the article you will learn about the main causes of iron deficiency, what symptoms you need to pay attention to in order to prevent anemia, and what foods are rich in iron.

The role of iron in the human body

  • participates in blood cell division;
  • delivers oxygen to tissues (as part of hemoglobin);
  • included in the structure of enzymes;
  • regulate the formation of cellular energy;
  • participates in the synthesis of steroid hormones, processing and breakdown of drugs;
  • modifies the immune response;
  • slows the aging process;
  • stimulates tissue growth and healing.

In total, the adult human body contains from 2 to 5 g of iron. When its concentration decreases, iron deficiency occurs, and then anemia.
There are 3 stages of this pathology:

  • pre-latent – microelement reserves are reduced, but not critically, without reducing the consumption of Fe for the formation of hemoglobin;
  • latent (hidden) – Fe reserves are completely depleted, but there are no signs of anemia yet;
  • manifest – complaints associated with a lack of hemoglobin formation appear, anemia develops.

How much iron does a person need per day?

The daily requirement for a microelement in an adult is 15-20 mg. Our body treats Fe very carefully: it recycles and uses 90% of the mineral that was formed during the aging process and the breakdown of red blood cells. And only 10% of Fe is irretrievably lost. Typical iron losses are about 1 mg per day. The need for microelements increases during active growth in children, as well as in women during menstruation (2-3 mg/day) and during pregnancy (up to 6 mg/day). The greatest iron losses under normal conditions are observed in nursing mothers (11,5 mg/day) [2] .

Normally, the processes of iron metabolism in the body are carefully regulated, so their violation is accompanied by its deficiency (more often) or excess (less often). Naturally, the body has adaptive mechanisms to prevent iron deficiency, in particular increasing the absorption of the microelement in the small intestine, but if the cause of the mineral deficiency is not eliminated, its symptoms will inevitably appear.

Products containing iron

About 10% of the iron needed to replenish lost iron comes into the body with food. [2] . There are two types of Fe found in foods: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is the easiest to absorb. Its sources are animal products. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods and is less easily absorbed. For it to be absorbed, you need to provide the body with vitamins C and B12. Significant dietary sources of the mineral are listed below.

Fruit

Fruits are valuable sources of soluble plant fiber, vitamins and minerals. To obtain the maximum amount of Fe, preference should be given to dried fruits – due to the loss of a significant amount of liquid, the content of nutrients in them is higher. In addition, fruits contain a lot of vitamin C, which is important for the complete absorption of the mineral.

The leaders among fruits in terms of iron content per 100 g are:

  • dried apples – 15 mg;
  • dried pears and prunes – 13 mg;
  • dried apricots – 12 mg;
  • pomegranate – 4 mg;
  • peach – 4 mg;
  • grapes – 2,7 mg;
  • apples – 2,5 mg.

However, it should be borne in mind that fruits contain a large amount of sugars, and during the drying process their concentration increases even more. Therefore, in order not to harm your health, you should not consume kilograms of fruit. It is advisable to consume them in the first half of the day: no more than 200 grams of fresh fruits or 30-40 grams of dried fruits.

Vegetables

Vegetables contain more iron than fruits. To improve its absorption, it is recommended to combine Fe-source vegetables with vegetables rich in vitamin C, for example, sauerkraut, green onions. It is worth noting that greens and herbs contain more micronutrients than vegetables. To improve the absorption of Fe, it is useful to combine various types of meat with vegetable side dishes. Valuable sources of the mineral per 100 g of product are:

  • seaweed (kelp) – 16 mg;
  • spinach – 13 mg;
  • sun-dried tomatoes – 8 mg;
  • parsley, dill – 6 mg;
  • Jerusalem artichoke – 4 mg.

Products of animal origin

Products of animal origin contain the same heme (organic) iron, the bioavailability of which is 5 times higher compared to non-heme iron. The leaders in microelement content are meat by-products: liver and kidneys. Fe is also found in red meat: rabbit, beef, pork. Valuable sources of the microelement are seafood, especially shellfish and tuna. The greatest amount of iron contains:

  • pork liver – 20 mg;
  • chicken liver – 8,9 mg;
  • beef liver – 8 mg;
  • beef kidneys – 7 mg;
  • oysters – 7 mg;
  • mussels – 6,7 mg;
  • rabbit meat – 4,4 mg.

Cereals

Cereals are an important part of the diet and a source of many vitamins and iron. To maintain maximum micronutrient content, it is important to choose whole grain, unpolished cereals. When cooking, you should never cook the cereal longer than it should; it would be better if it remained slightly undercooked. But cereals or instant porridges are almost completely devoid of vitamins and minerals due to technological processing. It is better to combine cereals with vegetable salads, meat and seafood, because they contain vitamins C and B₁₂ necessary for the absorption of Fe. Combining porridge with milk is not recommended due to decreased absorption of the microelement.
The leaders in iron content per 100 g of raw product are:

  • lentils – 6 mg;
  • barley – 3,6 mg;
  • buckwheat – 2,2 mg;
  • spelled – 1,7 mg;
  • quinoa – 1,5 mg;
  • pearl barley – 1,3 mg.

The listed food groups help maintain normal iron levels in the body. However, if there is a lack of a microelement, hidden or obvious iron deficiency, it is impossible to correct it with food. In addition, modern fast food culture makes it impossible to obtain sufficient amounts of the mineral from food. Dietary supplements from NUTRILITE™ will help replenish iron deficiency in the body.

The product NUTRILITE™ Iron Plus contains Fe in two of the most digestible forms – iron fumarate and gluconate. The mineral here is contained in concentrates from products of natural origin – spinach and oyster shell powder, due to which, on the one hand, it ensures the most complete absorption in the intestines, and on the other hand, it is suitable for vegetarians. In addition to Fe, it contains folic acid – it is involved in the processes of hematopoiesis, in the development of the nervous system of the fetus and infant, and supports women’s health. Therefore, the product** can be taken by women at the planning stage and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

How to determine iron deficiency in the body?

In the initial stages, iron deficiency may not manifest itself in any way, but in the future undesirable symptoms will certainly appear. Due to the varied functions that Fe performs in the body, the signs of its deficiency can also vary. There are two main groups of symptoms of iron deficiency: those associated with oxygen starvation and lack of the mineral in tissues. Complaints caused by iron deficiency are quite pronounced and painful, but not specific enough, so patients often turn to different specialists to no avail.
Here is a list of signs of lack of oxygen due to iron deficiency:

  • weakness, increased fatigue;
  • dizziness, constant headaches;
  • shortness of breath on exertion;
  • cardiopalmus;
  • drowsiness;
  • frequent mood swings, irritability, tearfulness;
  • decreased attention and memory;
  • deterioration of appetite, perversion of taste and smell;
  • urinary incontinence when coughing, laughing or at night.

Lack of Fe in tissues is manifested by a deterioration in the functioning of enzymes, and the ability of tissues to recover is reduced. This is manifested by the following symptoms:

  • skin changes (pallor, dryness, peeling, cracks);
  • deterioration of hair condition (dull, brittle, excessive hair loss);
  • thinning and brittle nails;
  • cracks in the corners of the mouth;
  • difficulty swallowing food and liquids;
  • abdominal pain;
  • interruptions in heart function, decreased blood pressure;
  • Immunity disorders (frequent colds).

Iron deficiency is especially dangerous for pregnant and lactating women, because it can complicate the course of pregnancy.

What reasons lead to iron deficiency?

The basis of Fe deficiency is an imbalance between its supply and loss, as well as increased consumption of the microelement. Common causes of iron deficiency are:

  • blood loss (heavy periods, childbirth, stomach and intestinal ulcers, hemoptysis, kidney disease);
  • iron absorption disorders (stomach and intestinal surgeries, pancreatic pathology, enzyme deficiency);
  • increased need for iron (rapid growth in adolescents, pregnancy, breastfeeding);
  • insufficient dietary intake of Fe (vegetarian and vegan diets).

Dietary habits can also affect iron absorption. Thus, dairy products in large quantities reduce the absorption of microelements due to binding with calcium; tea, coffee, Coca-Cola, cocoa have the same effect – there iron binds with tannins, which are complex plant compounds with pronounced inactivating properties. They form insoluble, non-absorbable products with Fe. Nuts, grains, and seeds contain phytic acid, which binds Fe and removes it through the intestines. While refined products contain very small amounts of microelements, which are also practically insoluble and are not absorbed by the body.

Bibliography:

  1. WHO/Nutrition/Nutrition Issues/Micronutrient Deficiency. 2021.
  2. Elstrott B, Khan L, Olson S, Raghunathan V, DeLoughery T, Shatzel JJ. The role of iron repletion in adult iron deficiency anemia and other diseases. Eur J Haematol. 2020 Mar;104(3):153-161. doi: 10.1111/ejh.13345. Epub 2019 Dec 26. PMID: 31715055; PMCID: PMC7031048.
  3. Strutynsky A.V. Diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency anemia. RMZh No. 11 from 14.05.2014/839/XNUMX: XNUMX.

* Nutrilite™ dietary supplements are not medicines. There are contraindications. Consult a specialist.
**Item availability is subject to change. Product images shown may differ from their actual appearance. Detailed information about the products can be found by calling 8-800-070-55-08 or on the website kz.amway.com.

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