Iron is an essential nutrient required by the body for oxygen transport and energy formation. Most of the body’s iron is found in hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to tissues.
Iron deficiency develops gradually and depletes the storage form of iron, whereas iron-deficiency anemia is the advanced stage of iron depletion that that results in low hemoglobin and small, pale red blood cells. In iron-deficiency anemia, red blood cells cannot carry enough oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues. This results in impaired energy metabolism and causes symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, apathy, pallor, and decreased body temperature.
Iron-deficiency anemia can result from a diet low in iron, inadequate absorption of iron, or excessive blood loss. Those at high risk for iron deficiency include women in their reproductive years, pregnant women, infants and young children, and teenagers. Unfortunately, during certain life stages in which iron needs are increased, iron intake may decrease. For example, children who do not eat meat and teenage girls who restrict food in an effort to lose weight may not be getting enough iron.
Recommended dietary allowances for iron:
Gender/Age Iron DRI
Males/14-18 11 mg
Males/19 + 8 mg
Females/14-18 15 mg
Females/19-50 18 mg
Females/51 + 8 mg
Dietary iron is available in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal products and is more readily absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron is found in some plant foods and is the form of iron added to iron-enriched and fortified foods. Good sources of iron are meat, poultry, and fish. A 3 oz serving of lean beef provides 3.2 mg of iron, 3 oz of dark turkey meat contains 2.3 mg, and 3 ½ oz of chicken liver will give you a whopping 12.8 mg! Non-heme sources of iron include beans, fortified breads and cereals, dark green vegetables, dried fruit, and blackstrap molasses. One cup of soybeans contains 8.8 mg of iron, a cup of fortified oatmeal has 10 mg, and ½ cup of boiled spinach has 3.2 mg. However, bear in mind that the iron from these sources is not as readily available to the body as the iron from animal products. To maximize the absorption of iron from non-heme sources, eat these foods together with foods containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, berries, watermelon, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. You can try adding strawberries to iron-fortified cereal, tomato sauce to spaghetti, or mandarin orange slices to spinach salad. By making an effort to include a wide variety of foods in your diet, you will help boost your intake of iron and other important nutrients.
Here you can see some recipes for Beef that will help you get lots of iron into your diet easily!