A month ago, I was diagnosed as being iron-deficient. I have been trying to adjust ever since, trying to eat as much iron-rich foods as possible. I will admit, ever since transitioning to a less-meat based diet, some days I do not have any meat at all. I was pretty clueless on what foods I needed to eat for good health, including those with iron in them. I thought I was good, until my new doctor told me I did not have enough iron in my urine.
Regardless of who we are, we all need iron, mainly because it helps to transport oxygen to our bodies. It also gives us healthier skin, hair and nails. If you are male, you do not have to worry about iron as much; just 8 milligrams is enough for you each day. But if you’re born female like I am, you will need a whopping 18 milligrams a day, due to us losing a lot of blood during each monthly period. Pregnant women need even more than that.
But overall, I think we all could use some more iron, at least some more healthy sources of it. There is a fair number of iron-rich foods to find on campus, if you know where to look. But to help you out on what foods, here are some good tips to get more of that good stuff!
- Know what foods you will need more of. There are two types of iron: heme-iron, found in animal products, and non-heme iron, found in plant products. You will need to know that your body absorbs heme iron much faster than non-heme iron. So, if you eat meat, foods like beef will do the job.
- The vegetarian and vegan section in the dining hall is your friend! Like almost everyone on the campus, I also hate the Dining Hall. However, I will admit, if you are looking for some good iron, the vegetarian/vegan section can get you covered. Bean dishes, like soy and chili are found in almost every meal there. You never know what you are going to get there — frito pie, stir fry, tofu bibimbap and other meals too. Just make sure to ask for more of the meaty stuff for maximum iron intake.
- Make sure to eat some Vitamin C if you eat non-heme iron. A 2004 “International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research report” discovered the benefits of eating Vitamin C with plant-based iron foods. Some foods have certain compounds that limit your body’s ability to absorb iron, and Vitamin C will help speed the absorption up. Some of those foods include tea and coffee, so you should think twice before drinking Saxby’s with your trail mix. Instead, load up on Vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits,
- Think about buying some nuts as a snack. This is because for some reason, nuts are either absent or scarce in the dining hall. Don’t worry, though; a generic-brand bag of nuts at the nearby Giant can cost just $4.39, and other stores are sure to cost less. Almost all nuts are at least very good for iron intake, but some nuts are better than others; 100 grams of peanuts are a whopping 175% of your daily iron requirements, while 100 grams of chestnuts have just 30% of it. Some nuts can also have unsaturated fats, phosphorus, or magnesium, too, so go nuts! (Pun intended.)
If I were you, I would not wait until you are clinically iron-deficient to double down on your iron consumption. I wish I doubled down, too. While yes, we can get iron from beefy fast food like burgers or meatballs, that’s no fun at all, not to mention unhealthy. There are always healthier ways to get the metal stuff. You just have to look around and do your research.
https://www.yourhealthremedy.com/health-tips/nuts-highest-iron/ https://www.livestrong.com/article/252558-should-you-take-iron-with-vitamin-c/ https://www.verywellfit.com/foods-high-in-vitamin-c-2507745
Emma Brennan is a Media and Culture major with a minor in Digital Marketing. EB976568@wcupa.edu