Maximise Your Iron Intake

You may have already been diagnosed with low iron or you may be wondering if you are suffering from an iron deficiency. It is not uncommon for women to suffer from low iron, particularly if you suffer from heavy periods or do not have adequate iron in your diet. Here are the common signs and symptoms to look out for -

  • Unusual tiredness
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dry and damaged skin, hair and nails
  • Swelling and soreness of the mouth and tongue
  • Restless legs
  • Spoon shaped nails
  • Frequent infections
  • Heavy periods

If you suspect you may be deficient in iron, head to your doctor and get a blood test as you may need iron supplementation to boost your levels. It is also not recommended to supplement with iron unless there is proven need. If you are concerned your diet may be lacking from iron, there’s plenty you can do to maximise your iron intake.

 

Ensure you are eating plenty of iron rich food aiming for 18mg per day. Use the guide below to ensure you are getting your daily dose.

 

Iron food source

Serving size

Amount of iron

Chicken liver

100g

11mg

Beef

100g

3.5mg

Kangaroo

100g

3.2mg

Kidney beans

1 cup

3.1mg

Green lentils

1 cup

3.0mg

Tofu

100g

2.96mg

Chickpeas

1 cup

2.7mg

Lamb

100g

2.5mg

Cooked wholemeal pasta

1 cup

2.3mg

Cashew nuts

30g (20 nuts)

1.5mg

Salmon

100g

1.28mg

Raw spinach

1 cup

1.2mg

Rolled oats

30g

1.1mg

Almonds

30g

1.1mg

Tinned tuna

100g

1.07mg

Lamb brains

100g

1.0mg

Dried apricots

30g (5 dried apricots)

0.93mg

Pork

100g

0.8mg

Broccoli

1 cup

0.86mg

Cooked brown rice

1 cup

0.7mg

Chicken

100g

0.4mg

Wholegrain bread

1 slice

0.4mg

Snapper

100g

0.3mg

 

Little secrets to increase your iron intake naturally:

  • Foods rich in Vitamin C will also enhance the absorption of iron from your diet. Combine iron rich foods with; capsicum, broccoli, kale, parsley, lychees, kiwifruit, oranges, lemon and limes. 

  • Some foods can impair iron absorption in the intestine. Therefore, it is best to avoid eating these foods at the same time as your iron rich foods. Alternatively cooking these foods help offset this effect. The culprits include; 

    • brazil nuts, linseeds, sesame seeds, almonds, soybeans, tofu, pinto beans corn and wheat. These foods contain Phytates and Phytic acids which bind to iron and stop the absorption
    • Tea, red wine, pomegranates, berries, apples, red beans, cocoa and coffee. These foods contain tannins which reduce the absorption of iron through the intestinal wall.
    • Spinach, kale, beetroot, nuts, wheat bran, strawberries, nuts, tea and chocolate. These contain oxalates which reduce the absorption of iron, however are ok if cooked.
    • Milk, yoghurt, cheese, sardines, tinned salmon, tofu, broccoli, almonds and figs. These calcium rich foods are great for your bones, however reduce the absorption of iron, so are best consumed away from your iron foods.
    • Eggs contain Phosvitin which significantly reduces iron absorption by up to 28%
  • Medications can also reduce your iron absorption. Calcium supplements, antacids, proton-pump inhibitors, aspirin 

  • High levels of physical activity can increase iron requirements 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     


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