Here’s What you didn’t Know about Iron

Iron is a mineral that is required to transport oxygen in the body and produce red blood cells. With a recommended daily intake (RDI) of 18mg, this essential nutrient can be derived from food. People who are iron-deficient suffer anemia. We’ll take a look at foods that are rich in iron.

11 Iron-rich Foods



Spinach contains iron and few calories. A portion 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked spinach contains 3.6 mg of iron, which is 20% of the RDI. It’s also rich in vitamin C.

However, note that the kind of iron in spinach is non-heme iron, the one which isn’t well absorbed. But relax, vitamin C boosts iron absorption, so spinach is cool for iron intake.

Wait a minute, have you ever heard of an antioxidant called “carotenoids”? It is one that decreases inflammation, reduces the risk of cancer, and protects the eyes from diseases — spinach has got carotenoids.

Organ Meats

Organ meats such as kidneys, livers, heart, and brain are highly nutritious with protein, vitamin A, B vitamins, selenium, copper, choline, and of course, iron. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of beef liver, for instance, contains 6.5 mg of iron, which is 36% of the RDI.


Shellfish is not only tasty as you probably know, but it is also high in iron, clams, mussels, and oysters in particular. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of clams has got about 28 mg of iron, and that’s 155% of the RDI. Note that clams may sometimes contain lower iron content.
Heme iron, the type in shellfish, is absorbed more easily by the body, unlike non-heme which is derived from plants.

Asides iron, a serving of clams also provides 26 grams of protein, 37% of the RDI for vitamin C and 1,648% of the RDI for vitamin B12. Yes, you read correctly. Clams alone aren’t this great; it’s common to all shellfish — they increase the body’s level of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol. Of course, we’re not unaware of the possible risks of consuming some shellfish due to the toxins in them, however, there are more advantages to consuming them than the possible risks.


Turkey meat is tasty and rich in iron, dark turkey meat especially. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of dark turkey meat has 2.3 mg of iron, which is 13% of the RDI. White turkey meat of the same quantity contains only 1.3 mg of iron. Turkey has also got protein, and its high protein content promotes fullness, heightens metabolism, and prevents muscle loss.

Red Meat

Rich in zinc, protein, selenium, B vitamins, and iron, red meat is quite nutritious. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of ground beef contains 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the RDI.



Talk of beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, or chickpeas, they’re all so rich in iron. These foods are rich in magnesium, folate, and potassium. A cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 6.6 mg, which is 37% of the RDI. Legumes reduce inflammation in diabetics and decrease heart disease risk for people with metabolic syndrome. They enhance weight loss too.
What of soluble fiber? Trust legumes to deliver! Soluble fiber gives feelings of fullness and reduces calorie intake.

Consuming legumes with vitamin C-rich foods such as greens, tomatoes or citrus fruits enhances iron absorption.


Also known as a pseudocereal, quinoa has got iron and contains no gluten, and this makes it a good choice for people who have celiac disease or are in other ways gluten-intolerant. A cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa provides 2.8 mg of iron, which is 15% of the RDI.

Red meat is one of the most easily accessible sources of heme iron.

Pumpkin Seeds

This tasty snack is rich in magnesium, manganese, zinc, vitamin K, and iron. A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds provide 4.2 mg of iron, which is 23% of the RDI.


Consume a cup (156-gram) of cooked broccoli and enjoy 1 mg of iron, which is 6% of the RDI. With its 168% of RDI vitamin C content, broccoli is absorbed better.
Folate and vitamin K are also present in broccoli.


This food, common among vegetarians, provides iron. Half a cup (126-gram) serving of tofu delivers 3.6 mg of iron, which is 19% of the RDI.

Asides iron, tofu contains protein thiamine, calcium, magnesium, and selenium.

What’s more? Tofu has got unique compounds called isoflavones which are great for insulin sensitivity, relief from menopausal symptoms, and a decreased risk of heart disease.

Dark Chocolate

Who doesn’t just love dark chocolate? I so do! Did you know that an ounce (28-gram) serving of dark chocolate contains 3.3 mg of iron? Yeah, that’s 19% of the RDI. What if I told you that the same quantity of dark chocolate contains 25% and 16% of the RDIs for copper and magnesium respectively. Isn’t that amazing?

How Do I Know if I’m Iron Deficient?

Unusual Tiredness


A constant feeling of tiredness is a common symptom of iron deficiency. In fact, studies show that it affects over 50% of people who are iron deficient.

Why though?

It is because the body needs iron to make hemoglobin, a protein which is present in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. Inadequate hemoglobin brings about less oxygen reaching the tissues and muscles, hence depriving them of energy. Even worse is that the heart has to work harder to move more oxygen-rich blood around the body, causing tiredness.

What’s even more saddening? Because tiredness has been taken as a part of a busy, modern life, it’s difficult to diagnose iron deficiency when one is unusually tired. But of course, let’s see other symptoms.

Shortness of Breath

As already mentioned, hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. Low hemoglobin levels lead to the muscles not getting enough oxygen to do regular activities like walking, climbing stairs, and similar activities.

Headaches and Dizziness

This symptom is not as common as others. Low levels of hemoglobin in iron deficiency lead to a shortage of oxygen getting to the brain. This may lead to blood vessels in the brain swelling, causing pressure and headaches.

Heart Palpitations

Here’s another symptom of iron deficiency. When there’s reduced transportation of oxygen around the body as already explained, the heart then has to work more

Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen around the body. When there’s iron deficiency, low levels of hemoglobin make the heart work extra hard to carry oxygen. This may lead to irregular heartbeats. Sadly, it may even lead to an enlarged heart, heart murmur or heart failure — this happens in extreme cases.


Iron deficiency may be evident through a pale skin and pale coloring of the inside of the lower eyelids. This happens because there is a shortage of hemoglobin in red blood cells that gives the blood its red color, hence less red blood, and this is reflected in the skin, as it looks less healthy — pale. This paleness appears all over the body or may be limited to the face, inside of the lips, gums, lower eyelids, and even the nails. Whatever the case, iron deficiency should be confirmed with a blood test.

Now that you Know…

Don’t wait till you’re iron deficient. And if you think you are, see a doctor. I was super excited when I carried out research on iron because it was a time when I was really just tired of my diet. So I was glad to add iron-rich foods that I wasn’t already eating to my diet. And really, it’s been an awesome experience, to say the least. Good health shouldn’t be compromised. Add some iron to your system; your body will thank you.