These proteins carry oxygen in the blood and the muscles. The human body obtains iron from food. Low levels of iron prevent synthesis of hemoglobin in the blood, leading to anemia.
Risks of iron deficiency
Risk of iron deficiency anemia is greater among menstruating women. In the absence of adequate intake of iron rich food, heavy menstrual bleeding could cause anemia. Pregnant women must include extra iron rich food in their diet to prevent anemia. Long distance runners, people suffering from gastrointestinal problems that prevent absorption of nutrients, people with bleeding ulcers, vegetarians and vegans are susceptible to iron deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency is a problem among children who are fussy eaters. Risk of iron deficiency is greater among children between 1 and 4 years of age. During this stage of growth, the body needs large amounts of iron. To prevent iron deficiency in toddlers, it is advisable to include at least two iron rich foods in their diet daily.
Milk, one must remember, is a poor source of iron. If during pregnancy a woman consumes adequate iron rich food, her baby will be born with enough iron reserve that would last up to six months. Nursing moms should eat enough iron rich foods to supply her breastfeeding infant iron needed for growth and development. Infants feeding on infant formula should be given iron-fortified formula milk to prevent iron deficiency.
Iron rich food
Although we are aware of the importance of iron rich food, we are often unsure about the sources of iron. Liver is the richest source of iron. You can obtain large amounts of iron from lean meat, fish and seafood. Egg and poultry contains adequate amounts of iron.
You can even find iron in numerous vegetarian foods. Beans and lentils are rich sources of iron. Iron is present in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens and turnip greens. Broccoli, asparagus, swiss chard, watercress, brussel sprout and parsley contain iron. You can eat nuts, prunes, apricot, raisins and dates to meet your iron requirement.