It’s notoriously difficult to eat healthy when you’re a kid, especially when your childhood is full of the delicious delights of desserts, burgers, and gooey pizza. That also probably means your doctor has told you at some point that you don’t include enough iron in your diet. Fortunately, you don’t have to fret; iron deficiency is prevalent among children and women, especially if you’re menstruating or pregnant.
However, even though it’s common, that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for alarm: iron is crucial to the body’s daily functioning, and prolonged iron deficiency can lead to conditions like anemia. It can also leave you feeling perpetually fatigued and weak, which can throw a wrench into all your plans and activities.
The Importance of Iron in Your Diet
Your body needs iron to support many different functions, like physical growth, muscle metabolism, brain and nerve development, and even cell function. Without enough iron, your body will struggle to regulate your body temperature and defend itself from viruses, bacteria, and other harmful organisms, since your immune system will be compromised. You’ll also feel tired much more often because iron is necessary for energy production.
Although you can take iron supplements to fill any nutritional gaps, it’s always best to incorporate these into your diet. According to John Fawkes, a Precision-Nutrition certified nutrition coach, humans absorb a measly 5 to 10 percent of an iron supplement—and that’s a lot of your hard-earned money going down the drain!
Iron-Rich Foods That Can Help Fix Your Deficiency
Supplements may be a quick way out, but healthy eating and nutrition is the most sustainable way to resolve a deficiency. Here are five foods to add to your diet that will spike your iron levels in no time:
Meat lovers rejoice: red meat is one of the best ways to up your iron intake! It’s also the most accessible heme iron source, making it essential for people with anemia. You’ll want to go for 90 percent lean ground beef to get the most out of it while cutting down on calories.
If you love seafood, then you’ll have every excuse to feast on oysters—all for the sake of your health, of course! Oysters are an incredible source of heme iron while having abundant amounts of B vitamins, supplying you with the nutrients you need to support cell health, metabolism, and energy production.
Soy is another excellent source of protein, and what better way to add it to your diet than by eating tofu? If you’d like to stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet, then filling yourself up with plant-based iron through tofu will give you the nutrition you need to stay healthy. Half a cup of tofu alone offers 20 percent of the daily recommended iron intake.
Many people may frown at the prospect of eating liver, but this organ meat is chock-full of iron! Whether beef or chicken liver, it will give you a massive dose of much-needed iron. In particular, chicken liver supplies you with B vitamin complex, which is also vital in producing red blood cells. Pork liver works well, too, offering 15 mg of iron in a 3-ounce serving.
Eating plenty of lentils, beans, and chickpeas will give you the iron you need without having to stock up on meat, making these foods perfect for plant-based eaters. They’re also incredibly nutritious while being lower in calories, so you get all the benefits and none of the weight!
When left untreated, iron deficiency can quickly devolve into conditions like anemia. Fortunately, it’s a nutritional gap that’s pretty easy to fix, especially with these five food items that are pretty easy to find. By adding more of these into your diet, you can say bye-bye to iron deficiency forever!
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