Iron is a mineral that is the central component of red blood cells responsible for performing crucial functions. Ever wonder how the supply of oxygen is carried throughout the body? The human body uses iron to develop hemoglobin present in the red blood cells to take and supply oxygen to every body part.

Moreover, it can significantly help in the growth of human beings because many proteins and enzymes use iron as their fundamental unit.

Iron allows healthy pregnancy, increases energy, and boosts athletic performance. It also increases strength and endurance indirectly by increasing the supply of oxygen.

Everybody has different Iron requirements, which depend upon their body type, age, gender, etc. To describe this, NIH USA (national institute of health) has provided a chart illustrating optimum consumption of iron following the life stages.

Life Stage:

Recommended Amount:

  • Birth to 6 months: 0.27 mg
  • Infants 7–12 months: 11  mg
  • Children  1–3 years: 7 mg
  • Children 4–8 years: 10  mg
  • Children  9–13 years: 8 mg
  • Teens boys 14–18 years: 11  mg
  • Teens  girls 14–18 years: 15 mg
  • Adult men 19–50 years: 8  mg
  • Adult women 19–50 years: 18 mg
  • Adults 51 years and older: 8  mg
  • Pregnant teens: 27 mg
  • Pregnant women: 27  mg
  • Breastfeeding  teens: 10 mg
  • Breastfeeding women: 9  mg

Iron consumption is vital for the body to perform daily tasks that you might question yourself, “Am I consuming enough iron”?

If the answer is no, then the following is a list of the top 3 Iron-rich foods which you might want to include in your daily diet to avoid its deficiency: 

Shellfish (Clams)

The Shellfish is an elite and famous dish that is indeed a great source of iron. It is popular among nations like Malaysia, Shri Lanka, Japan, etc. Many nutritionists and diet experts also claim that shellfish in the form of a clam has the highest source of iron as compared to any other sort of food. 

On top of that, Shellfishes contains heme iron, a type of iron that is proven to be highly absorbable by the body compared to non-heme iron, which is also known as a plant-based source of iron.

 Although absorption isn’t a problem with shellfish, the clams are proven to vary from one type to another. Hence, some of the clam types have significantly fewer amounts of iron.

Spinach

Spinach is a vegetarian source of iron. Another super-food is known for its high iron content. A 100 grams of spinach has almost 2.7 mg of iron, and that’s not shabby for a leafy source of iron. The best thing about spinach is that it is readily available in almost all parts of the world, so unlike shellfish, you don’t have to worry about the price or where to get it.

Although it is considered rich in iron, it might not be the best source to consider when it comes to bioavailability. The reason being, it contains Non-heme iron. According to an American author Scrimshaw NS, only 2 percent of iron is absorbed by the intestine, and the rest of it goes into waste. The other side of the coin is, many health professionals have proclaimed this statement to be false as spinach has vitamin C, which helps in the better absorption of iron.

It seems that Popeye was right after all.

Legumes

Legume is a family which consists of beans, chickpeas, soybean, lentils, etc. Iron content in the chickpeas precisely is the highest in all legume families, followed by lentils.

Overall, nearly every legume is loaded with high iron content, which can quickly boost your iron intake. For instance, peanuts have 4.6 mg of iron in every 100 grams.

When it comes to bioavailability, it is still lower than any non-vegetarian source of iron. According to ‘The American journal of clinical nutrition, the bioavailability of iron in legumes is somewhere between 0.81-1.91%. Legumes are highly produced by south Asian countries like India, Myanmar, Shri Lanka, and Brazil.

To increase iron absorption, one should follow the advice given by a plethora of food scientists and health experts that are:

●     Consume enough Vitamin C as it leads to better iron absorption.

●     Consume citric juices like orange and lemon juice.

●     Consuming items listed above simultaneously while eating iron-rich foods can maximize its absorption.

Although an individual must maintain healthy levels of this nutrient in the body, it doesn’t mean that we do it in excess since excess of anything is bad. It is crucial for you guys to know about the other way around nutrients as well. 

The other way around is that a higher level of iron leads to the production of harmful reactions in the body and could also interfere with metabolism, leading to hampering organs like the heart and liver.