Iron wills are well and good, but humans need the edible stuff too. The micronutrient iron is vital for transporting oxygen and cellular growth. It affects everything from energy levels to the immune system. Without enough iron, you get lethargic. A more serious deficiency, classified as anaemia, makes it difficult to fight off illness, according to a study by Cornell University. A healthy iron intake, however, helps brain function and metabolism. The US department of agriculture (USDA) recommends 8mg per day for adult males and 11mg for teenage boys. Adult women need 18mg and teenage girls, 15mg. During pregnancy, a woman needs 27mg daily.
Where to find it: According to the US National Institutes of Health, there are two types of iron in food: haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is found in animal protein and comes from haemoglobin. It is better absorbed than non-haem iron, which is found in plant proteins.
So if you are a consummate carnivore, feel smug. Meats, particularly liver, and shellfish contain the highest amounts of haem iron. The single highest source of non-haem iron is fortified breakfast cereal, according to Vegan Outreach, an animal rights organization. But also fill up on beans, lentils, spinach, sea vegetables, sesame seeds and oatmeal. To ramp up your iron absorption, add vitamin C.
Go easy on the coffee, caffeinated tea and red wine as the drinks inhibit iron absorption.
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