Do I need iron in my diet?

Estimates suggest that almost 1/3rd of the world’s population is anaemic. The disease caused by deficiency of Iron is highly prevalent in Indians due to poor dietary habits and lack of awareness.

It is well known that iron is a vital element that is found in almost all living beings. Iron plays a crucial role in your body’s well being enabling formation of the important haemoglobin and red blood cells. It also helps in the transportation of oxygen from one part of your body to another. Without iron, your liver would stop functioning normally, your immunity would lower and your body’s regular process would be disturbed.

How do I know I’m suffering from iron deficiency?

Do you feel tired all the time? Is your skin pale? Are you irritable, experiencing splitting headaches? If you’ve answered yes for all three questions, you may be suffering from anaemia. Read more here.

How much iron should I be consuming?

According to RDA i.e. Recommended Dietary Allowance, iron intake depends on different age groups, gender etc. For instance, if new born babies are not provided with breast milk of their mothers, then iron must be given to them additionally as prescribed by the doctors. Also pregnant ladies as well as blood donors have low level of iron  and hence it becomes essential for them to have good amount of iron in their diet.

What are the easily available sources of iron?

Iron is found in good amounts in red meat. There is a claim that hemoglobin generated from the red meat is responsible for the disease called colorectal cancer. But enough research is not done do justify the statement to the fullest.

Iron is also found in fish and poultry, the liver, kidney and heart is considered to be especially rich in iron.

If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, there are many plant based sources of iron which are easily available. Lentils and legumes are extremely rich in iron. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, green cauliflower etc are loaded with the goodness of iron. Chickpea, black eyed peas (lobhia) and kidney beans (rajma) are other vegetarian sources of iron.

Its interesting to note that heme iron, which is found in red meat, is easily absorbed by the body and hence, is considered to be better.

Tofu is also known to impart iron. Tofu is a Chinese dish which is also known as bean curd. It is made by soy milk and then making it a curd and hence making the blocks of curd. Tofu is very famous in China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia.

Blackstrap molasses, though not commonly known, is also a rich source of iron. It is prepared after maximum sugar is taken out from the sugar cane. Fortified bread, which is easily available in supermarkets now contains copious amounts of iron.

There is no denying that giving your body its fill of iron will help boost your immune system and general health but its important not to go overboard. Excess of iron in your diet can cause complications. Read more about it here.

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