Iron is a mineral that’s essential for good health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website says that iron helps move oxygen around in your body and helps your organs and muscles function. If you don’t get enough iron in your diet, you may be at risk of developing iron-deficient anemia. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, cold hands and feet, brittle nails and PICA, which is the desire to eat clay, chalk, starch, ice or gravel. If you have any symptoms, consult your health care provider to see if you have iron-deficient anemia. Plus, there are other health concerns that could cause similar symptoms.
Meat is a good source of dietary iron. Meat contains a type of iron that is easily absorbed by the body. There is also iron in many plant-based foods, but it is less easily absorbed. Some people who eat a mainly a plant-based diet may not get enough iron. By combining plant-based iron-rich foods with certain other foods, such as citrus fruit, you can help boost iron absorption. But some foods, such as tea or milk, may decrease absorption. The Harvard School of Public Health website has helpful info on foods that help and hinder iron absorption.
Some of my favorite plant based sources of iron are chard, spinach, kale, broccoli, legumes like lentils, beans, pumpkin seeds and enriched breads and cereals. The American Red Cross has a great list of iron-rich foods, as does Medline Plus, from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.