Iron in food

What is it for

Iron is the main constituent of red blood cells, and carries oxygen. For this, various vital processes, such as respiratory function and the synthesis of neurotransmitters, are essential.

Causes and consequences of iron deficiency

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The body contains an average of 3 to 5 g of iron, which it uses permanently to function and to renew its cells. Therefore, every day, it is necessary to provide the body with a sufficient amount of iron to avoid the risk of deficiencies. In fact, as soon as the body is deficient in iron, it risks developing an "anemia, that is, an insufficiency of red blood cells in the blood." Here are the symptoms: tiredness, breathlessness, palpitations, palpitations, decreasing physical and mental capacities ... these, however, are not reasons to bring, inversely, too much iron to the body, because this substance is also an oxidant powerful that accelerates the aging of cells. There is also a disease directly linked to the excessive accumulation of iron, hemochromatosis, which even needs to be treated.

Recommended daily intake

Children: 7 to 10 mg

Adolescents (boys): 13 mg

Adolescents (girls): 16 mg

Women: 16 mg (18 mg during menstruation)

Pregnant women: 30 mg

Breastfeeding women: 10 mg

Men: 9 mg

Elderly: 9 mg

Where to find it?

Virtually all foods contain iron in varying amounts. Those that contain the most are of animal origin: beef (3 mg), poultry (2 mg), offal (5 to 10 mg), molluscs (4 to 8 mg), sardines in oil (2.5 mg) ), egg yolk (5.5 mg) ...

Some food products of plant origin also contain it, in particular complete cereals (4 mg in oats, 9 mg in rice, 2 mg in wholemeal bread ...), dried legumes (3.3 mg in kidney beans, 8 mg in raw lentils ...) and vegetables (2.7 mg in spinach, 2.5 mg in kale ...).

Good to know

Generally, the iron contained in food is hardly absorbed by the body. This assimilation depends on its origin. There are, in fact, 2 types of iron: heminic iron and non-heminic iron. The first, contained in meat and fish, it is absorbed at about 25%, while the second (found in vegetables, eggs and dairy products) is assimilated only at about 5%. Hence the need, to avoid iron deficiencies, to differentiate the diet as much as possible, and not to eliminate any food.

The absorption of iron is also facilitated by vitamin C and, on the other hand, reduced by the tannins of tea, coffee, wine, beer. This is why red meat accompanied by parsley, or oysters with lemon juice, are good associations !

During certain periods of your life, and particularly during pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement.

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