The importance of consuming iron has been known for years, but certain benefits and recommendations are often overlooked, especially in women. The main and essential benefit of iron is that it aids in carrying oxygen to every part of the body, including the brain and muscles. In addition, iron plays a role in the proper growth of the human body, which requires iron in order to produce red blood cells.
Consuming a sufficient amount of iron also helps to combat fatigue and insomnia, as well as helping to support concentration and immune function. Women in general, have a higher requirement for iron than men due to their menstrual cycle, which results in depleted levels of iron.
Pregnant women should be especially conscious of consuming adequate iron. For the duration of a woman’s pregnancy, the baby’s only source of iron is from the mother. Because iron plays such a vital role in oxygen transport, and because adequate oxygen availability is imperative for the development of a healthy baby, consuming enough iron is most essential for expectant mothers.
- Men: 8 mg/day
- Women 19-50: 18 mg/day
- Women 51+: 8 mg/day
- Pregnant Women: 27 mg/day
- Breastfeeding Women: 9 mg/day
Iron Strong Foods:
- Beef, chuck (3 oz): 3.1 mg
- Turkey, dark meat (3 oz): 2.0 mg
- Beef, ground (3 oz): 2.2 mg
- Ready-to-eat cereal, 100% fortified (3/4 cup): 18.0 mg
- Oatmeal, fortified, instant (1 packet): 11.0 mg
- Soybeans (1 cup): 8.8 mg
- Lentils, boiled (1 cup): 6.6 mg
- Beans, kidney (1 cup): 5.2 mg
- Tofu, raw (1/2 cup): 3.4 mg
- Spinach, fresh (1/2 cup): 3.2 mg
Recipe: Mediterranean Steak Salad: Total recipe time: 25 to 30 minutes | Makes 4 servings
- 12 ounces grilled beef steak, cut into slices
- 3 medium oranges
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 fresh figs, stems removed, cut into quarters
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 cup drained canned chickpeas
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts
- 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
Instructions: Grate peel and squeeze juice from 1 orange. Whisk 1/4 cup of orange juice, 1 tablespoon orange peel and oil in small bowl. Set aside. Peel and cut segments from remaining 2 oranges. Set aside. Assemble salad by layering spinach, beans, onion, figs, orange segments and steak slices. Top with nuts and cheese. Drizzle with orange dressing.
Nutrition information per serving, using top sirloin steak: 509 calories; 24 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 11 g monounsaturated fat); 62 mg cholesterol; 334 mg sodium; 42 g carbohydrate; 8.0 g fiber; 35 g protein; 1.5 mcg vitamin B12; 6.4 mg iron