Iron - how to provide your body with iron

Cocoa, oatmeal and nettles - what do these three have in common?

.... right, they are good iron suppliers! :) 

What does our body need iron for? 

Iron is an essential mineral; we have to consume enough iron in food and beverages because our body cannot produce it ourselves. 

The binding of oxygen and the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues are important functions in which iron (Fe2 +) is a key component of the red blood cells (and by the way also the red muscle pigment myoglobin). In addition, iron is a component of numerous important enzymes and an essential factor in energy metabolism. 

As a trace element (a sub-category of minerals), iron is present in the body in a relatively low concentration, to be exact, that is an average of 60 mg of iron per kilogram of body weight. That's why we only need mg amounts of iron per day.[1]

How much iron should I consume daily?

Women are recommended to take 15 mg of iron a day, for men the recommendation is 10 mg / day. (Women older than 50 years: 10 mg, pregnant women: 30 mg, lactating women: 20 mg / day)[2]

Now you are asking yourself: Where do I get my daily 10-15 mg iron dose? Should I cook a nettle soup every day? ;-)

What foods are good sources of iron?

15 mg iron - you can e.g. achieve by incorporating the following into your meals:

       Half a cereal bowl with oatmeal (100 g - 5.1 mg iron) for breakfast
       Four dates (28 g - 0.5 mg iron) as a snack
       a serving of lentils (100 g - 8 mg iron) for lunch
       Corn salad (30 g - 0.6 mg iron [3]) for dinner
       and a piece of date dark chocolate  (12.5 g - 0.8 mg iron) as a dessert, in the evening or whenever you feel like it :)

It is ideal if you eat fruit, vegetables or sauerkraut, because the organic acids (vitamin C, citric acid, lactic acid) they contain help to promote the absorption of iron into the body.

And ideally, you should drink your green tea or coffee at a little distance from the iron-rich meals.

Why is that important? In the case of plant-based foods, the rate of absorption of iron into the body is lower than that of meat. In addition, phytates (phytochemicals), e.g. occur in cereals, legumes and nuts that inhibit iron absorption, as well as soy protein, polyphenols in spinach, tannins in coffee and tea (yes, also in black tea, not only green ones ;-) ).

The good news is that even small amounts of vitamin C are sufficient to increase iron absorption by a factor of two to four.[4]

The dates, lentils & Co. from above are of course only one example. Here we have put together a whole series of foods for you that can contribute to the iron supply. Which of these are you particularly keen on today?

Iron content of delicious foods [5]

       100 g oatmeal          5,1 mg       
       100 g flax seeds       8,2 mg              serving 1 tbsp    0,8 mg
       100 g cocoa powder  12 mg              serving 1 tbsp    0,6 mg

 Lunch / dinner
       100 g lentils                  8 mg
       100 g chanterelles     6,5 mg
       100 g white beans     6,1 mg
       100 g chick peas       6,1 mg
       100 g tofu                  5,4 mg
       100 g peass              5,2 mg
       100 g nettle               4,1 mg
       100 g spinach           4,1 mg
       100 g corn salad          2 mg
       100 g ginger root        17 mg
       100 g sesame             10 mg             

       100 g pumpkin seeds                         12,5 mg
       100 g dates                                           1,9 mg           serving 5 pieces    0,7 mg
       100 g pistachios                                    7,3 mg           serving 1 tbsp        0,6 mg
       100 g hazelnuts                                     3,8 mg           serving 10 pieces  0,4 mg
       100 g Date Chocolate Nature 59%        4,3 mg          1 piece                   0,5 mg
       100 g Date Chocolate Hazelnut 56%     4,9 mg          1 piece                   0,6 mg
       100 g Date Chocolate Dark 72%            6,5 mg          1 piece                   0,8 mg

And now have fun enjoying your new favorite iron supplier :)

Your Makri Team

[1]I. Elmadfa (2004) Ernährugslehre. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart

[3]I. Elmadfa, W. Aign, E. Muskat, D. Fritzsche (2010) Die große GU Nährwert Kalorien Tabelle. Neuausgabe 2010/11. 2. Auflage, Gräfe und Unzer Verlag, München

[4]W. J. Craig, L. Pinyan (2001) Nutrients of concern in vegetarian diets. p. 299-332. In: J. Sabaté (ed) Vegetarian nutrition. CRC Press, Boca Raton

[5]I. Elmadfa, W. Aign, E. Muskat, D. Fritzsche (2010) Die große GU Nährwert Kalorien Tabelle. Neuausgabe 2010/11. 2. Auflage, Gräfe und Unzer Verlag, München

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