What Foods Have Iron And Vitamin C

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Consuming iron and vitamin C together may be better than alone, increasing absorption of non-heme (plant) sources of iron.

Iron is a vital nutrient that contributes to the correct functioning of the human body. It is found in red blood cells and transports oxygen throughout the body through the blood stream. Additionally, it removes waste such as carbon dioxide, transporting it to the lungs to be exhaled.

Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. It is most common among young children and pregnant women due to rapid growth, girls/women of child bearing age due to menstruation and vegetarians. Signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, pale skin and fingernails, weakness, dizziness, frequent headaches and an inflamed tongue (glossitis).

What Foods Have Iron And Vitamin c

However, these symptoms only arise when iron deficiency has reached the classification of anemia; where the iron stores have become so depleted there is not enough iron containing red blood cells to transport the oxygen the body needs. It is important to get iron levels tested regularly in order to catch a deficiency before it progresses to anemia.

Iron is found in foods such as meats, beans (black, pinto, kidney, soy and lentils), dark green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals. Iron originating from meats (heme iron) and plant sources (non-heme iron) are absorbed differently; the body does not absorb the plant sources as well. It has been found that vitamin C can increase the amount of iron that the body absorbs from plant sources, the non-heme iron. Vitamin C is found in foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kiwis.

Try pairing the mineral iron with vitamin C to have maximal absorption from non-heme (plant) sources. Breakfast is a great time to consume this dynamic duo! Add sliced strawberries to oatmeal, or have a glass of orange juice alongside a bowl of iron fortified cereal. To be considered a good source of a mineral, a food must contain 20 percent or more of the recommended daily allowance. Take a look at the nutrition label of your cereal to ensure it contains enough iron. Many contain up to 100 percent!

While it is always preferable to obtain nutrients from real food, the source of the vitamin C does not impact how well the iron is absorbed. For example, vitamin C obtained from eating a grapefruit will have the same impact on increasing iron absorption as that of vitamin C coming from a multi-vitamin supplement.

Consuming iron and vitamin C together may be better than alone, increasing absorption of non-heme (plant) sources of iron.

Iron is a vital nutrient that contributes to the correct functioning of the human body. It is found in red blood cells and transports oxygen throughout the body through the blood stream. Additionally, it removes waste such as carbon dioxide, transporting it to the lungs to be exhaled.

Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States. It is most common among young children and pregnant women due to rapid growth, girls/women of child bearing age due to menstruation and vegetarians. Signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, pale skin and fingernails, weakness, dizziness, frequent headaches and an inflamed tongue (glossitis). However, these symptoms only arise when iron deficiency has reached the classification of anemia; where the iron stores have become so depleted there is not enough iron containing red blood cells to transport the oxygen the body needs. It is important to get iron levels tested regularly in order to catch a deficiency before it progresses to anemia.

Iron is found in foods such as meats, beans (black, pinto, kidney, soy and lentils), dark green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals. Iron originating from meats (heme iron) and plant sources (non-heme iron) are absorbed differently; the body does not absorb the plant sources as well. It has been found that vitamin C can increase the amount of iron that the body absorbs from plant sources, the non-heme iron. Vitamin C is found in foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kiwis.

Try pairing the mineral iron with vitamin C to have maximal absorption from non-heme (plant) sources. Breakfast is a great time to consume this dynamic duo! Add sliced strawberries to oatmeal, or have a glass of orange juice alongside a bowl of iron fortified cereal. To be considered a good source of a mineral, a food must contain 20 percent or more of the recommended daily allowance. Take a look at the nutrition label of your cereal to ensure it contains enough iron. Many contain up to 100 percent!

While it is always preferable to obtain nutrients from real food, the source of the vitamin C does not impact how well the iron is absorbed. For example, vitamin C obtained from eating a grapefruit will have the same impact on increasing iron absorption as that of vitamin C coming from a multi-vitamin supplement.

Common Foods Can Help You Get Enough Iron

The good news is that a lot of common foods contain iron — from oysters and pumpkin seeds to fortified cereals and red meat.

Here are 10 foods high in iron that can help you get all of the mineral you need.

1

Eggs, Red Meat, Liver, and Giblets Are Top Sources of Heme Iron

eggs in cartons

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in addition to some non-heme iron, lots of animal proteins have heme iron, including ground beef (4 ounces of 93 percent lean ground meat provides 2.63 mg, meaning it’s a good source), eggs (1.68 mg in two large eggs), turkey (1.23 mg per 3 ounces of dark-meat turkey), and pork loin (just over 0.5 mg per 3 ounces).

Organ meats like liver and giblets are especially rich in iron. For example, 113 grams of chicken giblets has 6.1 mg of iron, making it an excellent source. Meanwhile, liver serves up an impressive amount of iron. One ounce of pork liver comes packed with 6.61 mg of iron, another excellent source. If your cholesterol is high, or if you are pregnant, avoid liver. MedlinePlus notes that liver is high in cholesterol (1 ounce contains 85.3 mg of cholesterol), and research links eating liver to possible birth defects.

2

Oysters, Mussels, and Clams Are Rich Sources of Iron

oysters

Go ahead and splurge on the seafood appetizer — it comes with a generous side of iron! Bivalve mollusks like clams, mussels, and oysters are loaded with the important nutrient, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Per the USDA, five raw oysters deliver 3.23 mg of iron, making it a good source. They are also an excellent source of zinc, with 27.5 mg, as well as vitamin B12, with 6.1 micrograms.

As the NIH points out, zinc helps the immune system fend off viruses and bacteria, and vitamin B12 helps keep nerve and blood cells healthy.

If oysters, mussels, and clams aren’t on your regular menu, common seafood choices have some iron as well, according to the Mayo Clinic. For example, 3 ounces of chinook salmon has 0.2 mg of iron, per the USDA.

3

Chickpeas Are a Vegetarian-Friendly Iron Powerhouse

chickpea hummus

Animal products are known for being sources of iron, but that doesn’t mean plant-based staples can’t help you meet your goal, too. Chickpeas, a type of legume, provide 3.7 mg of iron per cup, per the USDA, making them an excellent source. They also deliver lean, plant-based protein — 14.6 g per cup, to be exact.

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a tasty addition to salads and pasta dishes, and they can be an unexpected way to mix up salsa. If you’re not a fan of the texture, puree chickpeas to create homemade iron-rich hummus. Adding lemon juice to your hummus will increase the vitamin C in the snack and help your body more easily absorb the non-heme iron in the legumes, because according to the Mayo Clinic, when you eat an iron-rich food at the same time as a vitamin C–rich food, you enhance your body’s ability to absorb the iron.

4

Fortified Breakfast Cereals Can Be Packed With Iron

raisin bran cereal

Is a bowl of cereal your breakfast of choice? Opt for a fortified version to start off your day with a dose of iron — Mayo Clinic recommends it as a way to up your iron total. Check the nutrition label for the amount of iron per serving. (And be sure to opt for the box with the least amount of added sugar.)

Per the USDA, raisin bran has 9.39 mg of iron per cup, and that makes it an excellent source. It is also an excellent source of fiber, a common characteristic of fortified cereals. The Mayo Clinic notes that dietary fiber can help relieve constipation and lower your odds of developing diabetes and heart disease.

5

Pumpkin Seeds May Be Small, But They Have Lots of Iron

pumpkin seeds

Don’t underestimate these crunchy seeds that you start seeing around Halloween. A 1-ounce serving of raw pumpkin seeds without shells has 2.7 mg of iron, per the USDA, providing a good iron source in a variety of dishes. Add the seeds to homemade trail mix or bread or muffin recipes, or use them as a crunchy topping for yogurt, cereal, or salad. You may also try them alone for a quick and healthy snack — 1 ounce packs 7 grams of protein. Win-win!

6

Edamame Is Filled With Iron and Other Essential Nutrients, Too

edamame

A common sushi sidekick, a cup of these raw green soybeans contains about 9 mg of iron, per the USDA, making them an excellent source of the nutrient. Not to mention, they’re a good source of minerals such as copper, which helps keep blood vessels and the immune system healthy, according to the NIH. A cup of soybeans is also a good source of copper and an excellent source of manganese and fiber, as well as provides plant-based protein.

Largeman-Roth recommends including soybeans in stir-fries or making an edamame dip. Soy beans make a tasty addition to pasta dishes, too, or you can simply enjoy them on their own, steamed and sprinkled with a little sea salt.

7

Prepare Black Beans With Vitamin C–Rich Veggies for an Iron Win

black beans

Boiled black beans serve up 3.61 mg of iron per cup, per the USDA, for an excellent source. To rev iron absorption, pair them with healthy fare such as kale, bell peppers, broccoli, or cauliflower. As MedlinePlus notes, those foods are high in vitamin C, which is a nutrient that aids the absorption of non-heme iron. Add beans to a salad, puree them into a dip to eat with raw veggies, or toss them into a stir-fry. The recipe possibilities for a can of black beans are endless! And if you’re looking for more variety, kidney, pinto, and fava beans all have iron, too, according to the USDA.

RELATED: 10 Nutritious Family Dinners to Make With Beans

8

Lentils Are Another Legume With Lots of Iron

lentils

Another legume worth an honorable mention in the iron department is lentils. Cooked lentils offer an excellent source of the mineral with about 6.59 mg per cup, per the USDA. And they offer 15.6 g of fiber per cup, too, making them a rich source. Fiber may help lower cholesterol and stabilize your blood sugar, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Lentils are also an extremely versatile ingredient in the kitchen — they’re a great addition to everything from soups and salads to burgers and chili.

9

Spinach, Eaten Either Cooked or Raw, Offers Iron

spinach

No matter how you prepare it, spinach is an excellent source of iron. Per the USDA, 1 cup of this healthy green (frozen and then boiled) delivers 3.72 mg of iron, as well as some protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamins A and E.

Calcium is necessary to keep your bones strong, according to the Mayo Clinic; vitamin A is beneficial for your vision and immunity, the Mayo Clinic notes; and vitamin E helps your vision, as well as your blood, brain and skin, per the Mayo Clinic.

The same serving size of raw spinach, which is more loosely packed than when prepared cooked, gives you almost 1 mg of iron, offering some of the mineral, according to the USDA.

While the leafy green often gets a bad rap in the taste department, especially among kids, it’s an easy ingredient to sneak into recipes undetected for a secret iron-boost (and as a non-heme iron source, it’s especially beneficial when paired with foods high in vitamin C, like some veggies, suggests Anzlovar, and as research shows). “I love using sautéed spinach in vegetable lasagna,” says Largeman-Roth. “It also works well in mini frittatas, which my kids love.” If eating spinach in a dish doesn’t sound appealing, try this green mixed into a naturally sweet fruit smoothie.

10

Sesame Seeds Taste Nutty — and Have a Kick of Iron

sesame seeds

“Sesame seeds have a wonderful nutty taste and are a rich source of iron,” says Largeman-Roth. The seeds contain some iron — 1.31 mg per tablespoon, per the USDA — and offer a slew of other essential nutrients, like copper. Not to mention, they contain phosphorus, vitamin E, and zinc.

An easy way to incorporate the seeds into your diet is to sprinkle them on a salad: Each tablespoon will add over a milligram of iron to your daily count — and when you’re aiming for 18 mg a day, every bit counts!

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