Get it?! Iron, man - Iron Man! As in Tony Stark! But in all seriousness...
This week marks the start of World Iron Awareness Week 2018 (27 August - 2 September), and although iron deficiency can often be thought of as something that affects people without access to nutritious food, thousands of New Zealanders aren't getting enough iron in their diet to meet daily requirements and are therefore at risk or already iron deficient. Do you know how much iron you need in your diet every day and where to get it? Read on to find out!
Why do I need iron?
The body uses iron to make healthy red blood cells, to support a healthy immune system, and to maintain optimum energy levels - all essential factors to living your most vibrant and healthy life! If you aren't getting enough iron in your diet you may start to experience symptoms of iron deficiency such as fatigue, irritability, poor concentration, increased sensitivity to the cold and frequent infections.
How much iron do I need?
The amount of iron you need each day depends on your gender and age, to reflect patterns of growth and development throughout different stages of life.
- Infants: 0-6 months = 0.2mg/day, 7-12 months = 11.0mg/day
- Children: 1-3 years = 9.0mg/day, 4-8 years = 10.0mg/day
- Adolescents: 9-13 years = 8.0mg/day, 14-18 years = 11.0mg/day for boys, 15mg/day for girls
- Adult males: 19+ years = 8.0mg/day
- Adults females: 19-51 years = 18.0mg/day, 51+ years = 8.0mg/day
- Pregnant women = 27.0mg/day
- Breastfeeding women = 9.0mg/day
Where can I get iron from?
Iron in food comes in two forms
1. Haem iron: found in meat, chicken, fish, and is easily absorbed by the body
2. Non-haem iron: found in plant based foods (i.e. beans/lentils, cereals and vegetables), and isn't as easily absorbed by the body
To meet your daily iron requirements, include a serving of the following iron rich foods in your diet every day:
- 1/2 cup of mussels = 7.5mg
- 1 lean beef fillet steak = 5.8mg
- 100g of tofu = 5.4mg
- 1 cup of cooked spinach = 2.5mg
- 90g of canned salmon = 2.1mg
- 1/2 cup of cooked kidney beans = 2mg
- 1 chicken breast = 2mg
- 1/2 cup of fruity muesli = 1.9mg
- 1/2 cup of cooked chickpeas or baked beans = 1.6mg
- 1 wheat biscuit = 1.5mg
Make the most of the iron in your diet!
To boost the absorption of iron make sure you eat iron rich foods with foods high in vitamin C such as tomatoes, capsicums, orange juice etc., and avoiding drinking tea 1/2 an hour either side of your iron rich meal as this can block the absorption of iron.
If you are experiencing symptoms of iron deficiency or you are concerned that you may not be getting enough iron in your diet, talk to your GP or contact us to book your consultation with a Registered Dietitian at Sanctuary Nutrition.
Until next time,