For the average adult woman, the recommended daily allowance of iron is 18 mg per day. If you have the signs of an iron deficiency, which include fatigue, irritability, and cold hands, then you might want to start looking at your intake. Vegetarian or not, iron is one of the most vital minerals women need in their 20s and 30s. Here are the easiest ways to get it.
- Greens: Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are excellent sources of iron, especially for those who lay off the meat. In addition to the iron they provide, both kale and spinach help regulate blood clotting, a culprit of anemia.
- Iron-rich cereals and grains: Check labels. Certain whole grains like oatmeal and fortified cereals contain extra iron to give your levels a boost. In addition, they help to fight fatigue, one of the side effects of low iron levels. These energy-packed grains will add iron and improve your symptoms at the same time.
- Red meat: Although most people avoid red meat in surplus because of its high levels of saturated fat, it can have iron-inducing effects almost immediately. Heme iron, the type of iron found in red meat, is more easily absorbed by the body than other types, which, in turn, helps make red blood cells healthy. Since teenage girls and women in their childbearing years require more iron, red meat could be a key nutrient to indulge in every now and then during this developmental time. Be smart about meat choices by looking for lean cuts and choosing grass-fed varieties, which are richer in nutrients.
- Dried fruit: Apricots, raisins, peaches, and prunes are all delicious dried fruits that provide abundant amounts of iron. Think about adding dried fruit to other sources of iron like oatmeal or salads to get a double boost of the mineral.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, beans, and other legumes are a tasty and hearty way to get iron in your system. If you aren't a carnivore, load up on the stuff to get your daily dose of iron while staying full at the same time. The bonus of these iron-providing morsels is the fact that they can be eaten alone without any interferences, like calcium, which can sometimes slow the absorption of iron.
- Iron supplement: If you have an iron deficiency, eating many of these foods even in abundance may not be enough. Speak with your doctor about taking an iron supplement to make up for low levels of the stuff. Adults shouldn't take more than 45 mg a day unless they are under close doctor's care.