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Sources of Iron

What Does Your RDI Look Like: Iron

Back in my vegetarian phase during college, my mom always said, "If you don't eat beef, you won't get enough iron." While it is a great source of this valuable mineral, red meat is not the only meat that contains iron. Chicken, turkey, and seafood such as oysters, tuna, and salmon are also high in iron. When it comes to vegetarian sources, beans, leafy greens, nuts, egg yolks, potatoes with the skin, and dried fruits can help you reach your recommended daily intake (RDI). The human body needs iron to make hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, and an adult woman should get 18 milligrams of iron daily. Check out the chart below to make sure you're meeting the RDI of iron.

Food Amount Amount of Iron (mg)
Fortified cereal 1 oz 4.5-7
Dried apricot 1/4 cup 1.5
Raisins 1/4 cup 1.1
Molasses 1 tbsp 3.3
Garbanzo beans 1/2 cup, cooked 3.4
Pinto beans 1/2 cup 2.2

Continue reading to see what other foods contain iron and signs of iron deficiency.

Food Amount Amount of Iron (mg)
Lima beans 1/2 cup 2.2
Lentils 1/2 cup 3.2
Soybeans 1/2 cup 7
Tofu 1/2 cup 6.2
Sun-dried tomatoes 1/2 cup 9
Spinach 1/2 cup, raw 2.7
Kale 1/2 cup, steamed 2
Broccoli 1/2 cup, raw 1
Asparagus 1/2 cup, steamed 1
Potatoes, with the skin 1/2 cup 3.2
Pine nuts 1/2 cup 9
Peanuts 1/2 cup 3.9
Pumpkin seeds 1/2 cup 14
Sunflower seeds 1/2 cup 6.7
Flaxseed 1/2 cup 6.2
Ground beef 1 patty 4
Steak 3 oz 4
Turkey (dark meat) 3 oz 4
Oysters 3 oz, steamed 7.4
Trout 3 oz 4
Shrimp 3 oz 4

If after reading this list you're worried that you're not getting enough iron, here are the symptoms of anemia: feeling unusually tired, pale skin, shortness of breath during exercise, cold hands and feet, brittle nails, hair loss, and headaches. Another sign of low iron levels is red-tinged pee after eating beets, which in some cases is a sign of iron deficiency. If you're concerned, all it takes is a simple blood test to confirm your iron levels.

If you are diagnosed with anemia, try to eat more foods high in iron, pairing them with foods high in vitamin C, which helps your body absorb the mineral. Taking iron supplements can also help, but they may cause an upset stomach, heartburn, or constipation. Although it's rare, you can also get too much iron. Extra amounts of iron in the body eventually build up to dangerous levels and can cause severe damage to organs trying to store the extra iron. So be careful not to regularly exceed your daily requirement.

Image Source: Getty
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