Iron is an essential mineral that human bodies need but cannot produce. It is vital in red blood cell production, which helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is integral in neurological functioning, hormone synthesis, energy production, etc. Further, iron helps the muscles store and use oxygen efficiently. Healthy adults need 8 to 18 milligrams (mg) of iron daily.
You get iron from food containing two types of iron, heme and non-heme. Your body readily absorbs heme iron from meat, poultry, and fish. Non-heme iron is plant-based.
The body absorbs iron better by eating iron-rich foods together with foods containing high levels of vitamin C. However, you reduce iron absorption if you have iron-rich foods but drink red wine, tea, or coffee with them. Other iron absorption inhibitors are some soybean products, calcium supplements, and calcium-rich foods.
With too little iron, you can develop iron deficiency anemia. However, too much iron can cause the development of hemochromatosis, which is also hereditary. Too much iron can build up in the joints, pituitary gland, pancreas, liver, heart, and skin.
Continue reading to learn more about food items that are good sources of iron.
Among meats, red meat is one of the excellent sources of heme iron. The top sources are beef/ground beef, lamb, and venison. For example, a 100-gram serving or 3.5 ounces of ground beef will give you 2.7 mg of iron, equivalent to 15 percent of your body’s daily value. Aside from iron, red meat is rich in high-quality protein, several B vitamins, selenium, and zinc. A serving of venison has 4.8 mg of iron, while one serving of lamb contains 1.78 mg. On the other hand, a 100-gram serving of beefsteak has 3.5 mg of iron. Other red meat includes pork, veal, and goat.
According to research, iron deficiency is lower in people who regularly eat meat, fish, and poultry. In a study of women doing aerobic exercises, those who consumed meat retained the iron in their bodies better than those who got it from supplements.
However, remember that eating plenty of red meat is not beneficial to your health, as it can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. As always, eat in moderation. The recommended amount is no more than 350 mg per week. Furthermore, avoid eating processed red meat like salami, ham, and bacon.