Growing children, teenage girls, and women have higher needs for some nutrients. Many women and adolescent girls need to eat more calcium-rich foods to get the calcium needed for healthy bones throughout life. By selecting low-fat or fat-free dairy items and other low-fat calcium sources, they can obtain adequate calcium and keep fat intake from being too high.
Young children, teenage girls, and women of childbearing age should also eat enough iron -rich foods, such as lean meats and whole-grain or enriched white bread to keep the body’s iron stores at adequate levels. Below are some recommended foods high in calcium and iron to assure you are getting adequate amounts of these important minerals in your diet (especially if you are counting calories!)
Good Sources of Calcium
- Milk and dishes made with milk, such as potato soup, puddings
- Cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan
- Canned fish with soft bones such as sardines, anchovies or salmon.
- Leafy greens of the cabbage family, such as kale, mustard greens, and turnip tops, and pak choi.
- Tofu, if processed with calcium sulfate (make sure to read the label)
- Tortillas made from lime-processed corn (make sure to read the label)
Note about dairy group – Some foods in this group are high in fat or cholesterol or both. Choose lower fat and cholesterol foods most often.
Some Good Sources of Iron
- Meats — beef, pork, and lamb and especially liver and other organ meats!
- Poultry — chicken, duck, and turkey, especially liver and dark meat!
- Fish — shellfish, like clams, mussels, and oysters; sardines; anchovies; and other fish!
- Leafy greens of the cabbage family, such as broccoli, kale, turnip greens, collards; lima beans, green peas; dry beans and peas, such as pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and canned baked beans
- Yeast-leavened whole wheat bread and rolls
- Iron-enriched white bread, pasta, rice, and cereals. Read the labels.
Note about meat, poultry and fish: Some foods in these categories are high in fat or cholesterol or both. Choose lean, lower fat and lower cholesterol foods most often.
When it comes to essential minerals, iron and calcium are some of the most important. Iron’s main role is to help transport oxygen around the body. It’s also important for brain function, , and a healthy immune system. Calcium is vital for healthy bones and teeth. And it also helps normal blood clotting. For optimum health and wellbeing, calcium and iron are crucial to a balanced diet.
We are often asked the question whether you can take iron and calcium supplements together. Some people are concerned that calcium interferes with iron absorption.
This article takes you through everything you need to know about the relationship between calcium and iron. Topics covered include the following:
- The effects of calcium on iron absorption.
- Whether there are any risks to taking iron and calcium together.
- Foods rich in iron and calcium.
By the time you have finished reading, you will have a better understanding of the relationship between iron and calcium.
Calcium and Iron Absorption
There are two primary sources of dietary iron. Heme iron comes mainly from animal sources – think red meat, chicken and shellfish. In contrast, non-heme iron is plant-based. Good sources include fortified cereals, beans and legumes, dried fruits, leafy greens and vegetables.
Unlike non-heme iron, the body finds it easier to absorb heme iron. Other factors also affect iron absorption. The tannins in tea and coffee, for example, are known to inhibit iron absorption, while vitamin C has a positive effect. So, swapping your cup of tea for a glass of orange juice at mealtimes is one way to help your body to absorb more iron.
Google “calcium and iron absorption” and you will find a mixed bag of results. Some experts suggest that calcium inhibits iron absorption, while other sources say that it doesn’t.
The truth is that in some highly controlled, short-term studies, calcium has interfered with iron absorption. It can bind to iron, making it harder for the body to absorb. However, when you look at the data collected over much longer periods of time, it’s a different story. The
Active Iron uses a ground-breaking whey protein formula to allow iron to carried to the site of natural absorption in the gut, the DMT-1 unlike standard iron sulfate which breaks down in the stomach. This is why Active Iron has clinically proven x 2 absorption than iron sulphate and fewer side effects such as nausea, reflux and constipation. (insert reference)
Can You Take Calcium and Iron Together?
As part of a balanced diet, it’s safe to eat calcium and iron together. However, if you want to maximise iron absorption, drink your glass of milk a couple of hours after eating rather than at mealtimes. Non-dairy milk alternatives are fine to have at any time.
In an ideal world, we would all get enough calcium and iron from the foods we eat. However, some people find it hard to get enough from dietary sources alone and take calcium and iron supplements.
And when it comes to taking calcium and iron supplements, again it’s best not to take them at the same time. As we discussed earlier, calcium can have a short-term effect on iron absorption. To avoid this, take your iron supplement separate from your calcium supplement. Generally, the best time to take your iron supplement is between meals or 30-60 minutes before eating, including tea, coffee and dairy products.
Does Calcium Inhibit Iron Absorption?
There is some evidence that calcium blocks iron absorption in the short term. However, studies have shown that over a much longer timeframe, there is no substantial effect. (references)
To maximise the benefits, avoid taking iron and calcium supplements together. Spacing them apart at different times of the day ensures you get the best out of both supplements.
Foods Rich in Iron and Calcium
So, what foodstuffs are rich in calcium and iron? Here’s a list of the best foods to eat if you want to increase calcium and iron in your diet.
- Meat, fish and eggs: these food groups, especially red meat, canned tuna and sardines, are high in both iron and calcium.
- Beans and lentils: all types of legumes are good sources of both dietary iron and calcium.
- Vegetables: leafy greens such as kale and Collard greens are good choices, and broccoli also ticks both boxes.
- Nuts and seeds: adding pumpkin seeds, almonds, and walnuts to your diet will see you increasing your intake of both calcium and iron.
Conclusion: Iron and Calcium
Iron and calcium are essential minerals, vital to our health and wellbeing. With today’s busy lifestyles, getting enough from the food we eat alone can be a challenge.
For many people, iron and calcium supplements offer the perfect solution. And the good news is, it is possible to take calcium and iron together. Just make sure you take them at different times of the day to get the best results.
Active Iron’s ground-breaking formula is kind to the stomach and easy to absorb. Clinical research shows that Active Iron’s unique formulation doubles the amount of iron compared to iron sulphate absorbed by the body. Formulated by scientists and easy to swallow, Active Iron is so gentle, you can even take it on an empty stomach.
Tasty Ways To Increase Your Iron And Calcium Intake
Want to add iron, calcium to your diet in a yummy way? Try going for ingredients like sesame seeds, dried peaches and prune juice, says an expert. Even ingredients like green leafy vegetables, brussels sprouts and raisins are tasty and healthy way to increase your iron and calcium intake.
Sonia Narang, Nutrition Expert, Oriflame India, lists some items you can use to prepare dishes:
Green Leafy Vegetables
Spinach, fenugreek and other green vegetables have high amount of iron, but in order for your body to absorb them better, you need to add vegetables like potato or tomato with them.
These tiny-looking food items are in fact very healthy. Sprinkle a handful of them on your dishes or salad or even include them in your roti. They contain a good amounts of folic acid.
Brussels sprouts are a viable source of antioxidants, vitamins, folate and fibre. Plus, they are an excellent source of iron, and an obvious choice in helping to prevent fatigue and other symptoms of iron deficiency.
Like other dried fruits, raisins are nutrient-dense treats that contain large amounts of iron. It is easy to add a handful of these subtly sweet treats to your cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or salads as part of a balanced diet.
A serving of dried peaches contains about nine per cent of your daily recommended iron, without weighing you down with lots of sugar and calories.
It is a potent source of iron. Its high vitamin C content makes it easier for your body to absorb the iron, so have a glass with your next meal to get the most out of the other iron-rich foods in your diet.