Iron is an indispensable element for the functioning of the human body, since it is an essential component of the protein called hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen to red blood cells. Therefore, if we don't get enough of this mineral, it is likely that we will feel tired and dizzy, and may even develop anemia.
Although iron requirements vary by gender and age, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a dose of 8 mg per day for men and 18 mg per day for women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
Despite the existence of supplements that can supply us with this mineral, the best way to get your recommended dose of iron is through a healthy and varied diet. This terrific list features 9 of the best natural sources of this vital mineral.
Organ meats are an excellent source of essential nutrients for your health, including iron. Although exact amounts depend on the type of organ and portion size, beef liver, for example, can provide 5mg of iron per 85g.
Soybeans are one of the main sources of protein in vegetarian diets. However, all people, regardless of their food preferences, can benefit from this vegetable. A half-cup serving of soy beans can contribute between 4 and 5mg of iron, so we recommend you use them in salads and other dishes.
Besides being related to beans, lentils are another excellent natural source of iron. Half a cup can get you more than 3mg of iron, with the added advantage that you can cook lentils faster than beans. Lentil soup is an especially great way to enjoy this iron booster.
Despite being known for its high content of vitamin A, spinach is also an important source of iron: half a cup of spinach contains about 3mg of it. This vegetable is versatile and can be used to prepare a variety of dishes, from frittatas to lasagna, pies and salads.
How to determine your individual iron requirement:
Knowing the main sources of iron is a good start, because we all need this essential mineral. However, it is also important to understand that each person may have a different iron intake requirement, especially when it comes to people who already have an iron deficiency, or those who tend to develop anemia.
Check with your doctor or nutritionist about specific recommendations for iron consumption in the following cases:
• If you've recently lost significant amounts of blood.
• If you are being treated with anticoagulants.
• If you have a history of kidney disease.
• If you have more than 65 years under your belt.
• If you have heavy menstrual periods.