Kristen Zaier, ​​Plant-Based RD

 How Much Iron Do I Need?


  • ​ RDA for Men >18 and Women >50 is 8 mg/d

  •  RDA for Women 19-50 is 18 mg/d

  •  Upper Safe Limit for Adults is 45 mg/d


Why Do I Need Iron?


  • Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin and myoglobin, two proteins that store and transport oxygen

  • Iron is also a part of various enzymes


Plant-Based Sources of Iron


  • Plant-based sources of iron include beans, greens, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, potatoes, fortified cereals, whole grains, enriched bagels and breads, tempeh, tofu, blackstrap molasses and prune juice


Food

Iron Content (mg)

Black beans, 1 cup cooked

3.6

Garbanzo beans, 1 cup cooked

4.7

Kale, 1 cup cooked

1.2

Swiss chard, 1 cup cooked

4

Walnuts, 1 ounce 

0.8

Cashews, 1 ounce

1.9

Prune juice, 1 cup

3

Bagel, large (4 1/2 inches), enriched

8

Raisin Bran, 1 cup

7.3

Gape Nuts, 1/2 cup

16

Potato, large (3-4 1/2 inches) baked

3.2


Deficiency Symptoms


  • Fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Pale skin, eye membranes and nail beds

  • Concave nails

  • Impaired wound healing

  • Lowered immunity

  • ​Reduced resistance to cold

 

Iron

References used for all of the nutrient pages can be found at the bottom of the Nutrition Facts page. Click here.

 Toxicity Symptoms


  • Infections

  • Lethargy

  • Joint disease

  • Loss of hair

  • Organ damage


How to Assess Status


  • Your doctor may check the following labs: serum ferritin, serum iron, hemoglobin, hematocrit and iron-binding capacity


Notes


  • Iron absorption from plant sources is increased when combined in a meal with vitamin C rich foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, red peppers, kiwi and strawberries

  • Garlic and onions can also increase iron absorption from plants

  • If you suspect that you have marginal iron status avoid eating iron rich foods with known inhibitors such as coffee and tea


Links


Here are some interesting videos from NutritionFacts.org relating to iron


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