Iron is a mineral essential for the formation of hemoglobin, a protein needed for oxygen transfer in the blood. It is also necessary for muscle growth, cellular functioning, and the production of certain hormones.
Dietary iron is composed of two forms: heme (hepatocellular) and nonheme (non-hepatocellular). Heme iron is the more bioavailable form of dietary iron and contributes about 40% of the total absorbed iron.
Dietary iron is an essential mineral that plays a role in the formation of red blood cells and oxygen transport. It can help prevent anemia by boosting the production of hemoglobin, a protein that is required for the transportation of oxygen.
Several factors can affect iron absorption. The best way to increase iron absorption is to eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables. Adding a glass of orange juice to a meal can also improve absorption.
Heme iron is the type of iron that is found in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish and poultry. The body absorbs heme iron more readily than non-heme iron.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you need to make sure you get enough dietary iron. It can be difficult to meet your iron needs on a plant-based diet, but there are plenty of options to make up for it.
Vegetarians and vegans have to consume twice as much dietary iron as meat-eaters to reach their daily recommended intake (RDA). Heme-rich food sources, such as chicken, liver, beef and salmon, are excellent heme iron sources.
However, it’s important to remember that some dietary components can interfere with iron absorption, including calcium, tannins and phosphates. These are all common ingredients found in tea, coffee, milk and dairy products, as well as in whole-grain cereals with high levels of phytic acid.
One of the ways to avoid these dietary elements is to add iron-fortified cereals and dried fruit to your diet. This can help ensure that you’re getting enough dietary iron, as well as other nutrients like fiber.
Another way to increase dietary iron is by eating eggs, steak and liver. These foods are a great source of heme iron, but they may also block iron absorption in your body due to the presence of phosphoprotein. Pairing these foods with vitamin C-rich items can help boost your dietary iron intake, suggests the Global Healing Center.
In addition, if you’re an active athlete or you participate in endurance sports, increasing your iron intake could be beneficial to your performance and recovery. Having sufficient amounts of iron in your system can help reduce tiredness and fatigue, as it helps you maintain oxygen levels in your muscles.
The best source of heme iron is organ meats, such as kidneys, liver, brain and heart. The liver, in particular, is a very nutrient-dense organ that contains large quantities of heme iron.
Heme-rich meats include beef, lamb, pork, venison and poultry. Heme-rich fish and seafood, such as shrimp, sardines, salmon, tuna and seaweed, are also good sources of heme iron.
Although heme-rich foods can be expensive, consuming them regularly is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the recommended amount of iron each day. Vegetarians and vegans should also make sure to eat these foods on a regular basis, since it’s difficult to achieve their RDA without them.
Heme iron is the most bioavailable form of iron, and it’s the easiest to absorb by the body. It’s also the safest type of iron to take. It doesn’t require conversion to another form for absorption, which means it doesn’t cause side effects and can be used safely by pregnant women or those who are taking a medication for anemia.