Iron deficiency anemia is a common nutritional deficiency worldwide, especially among children. It can result in fatigue, learning disabilities and behavioural issues. Kids ages four to eight need about 10 milligrams (mg) of iron a day because of their rapid growth and development. Kids ages nine to 13 need eight mg per day.
About two per cent of adult men, 10 per cent of Caucasian women and 20 per cent of African American women have iron deficiency anemia, according to a 2007 report in the American Family Physician Journal.
The human body needs iron to move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, which is the part of the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
To meet your nutrition needs, eat a variety of foods, including iron-rich foods, every day. Compare nutrition labels. Many grain products are fortified with iron.
In some cases, an iron supplement is needed, so check with your health-care provider. Keep iron supplements out of reach of children. Some good sources of iron are:
Lean meat (3.2 mg per three-ounce patty)
Tuna and salmon (1.1 mg per three ounces)
Iron-enriched bread and cereals (0.9 mg per one slice of bread; amount varies in cereals)
Cooked dried beans (4.1 mg per one cup)
Leafy, green vegetables (1.9 mg per 1/2 cup of spinach)
Eggs (0.7 mg per egg)
Raisins (0.8 mg per 1/4 cup)
Iron from meat, fish and poultry is the most easily used by the body. The iron in grains, beans and vegetables is more easily used by adding a vitamin Crich food, such as orange juice, to your menu. Include a meat product that naturally contains iron with plant-based iron sources to improve iron absorption.
– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D.,
is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition
specialist and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.