Vitamin C has been shown to increase iron absorption. One study showed that taking 100 mg of vitamin C with a meal increased iron absorption by 67%.
There are both foods that increase the absorption of iron and foods that inhibit their assimilation. Did you know that only a small amount of the iron in the diet is really assimilated? If you have iron deficiency and you seek to increase its absorption, you are in the right place.
In addition, we remind you that sufficient consumption and proper use of this mineral by our body is essential for a healthy and active life.
What is iron and what amount to consume?
Iron is a mineral that intervenes in the formation of hemoglobin, the proteins of muscles and bones and the transport of oxygen to tissues. The lack of iron can cause iron-deficiency anemia whose symptoms are: tiredness, palpitations, lack of concentration and paleness of the skin.
Also, sometimes, there are cracks in the lips, headaches, dizziness and weakness in the hair and nails. The amount of iron that a person should consume depends on the sex and the physiological stage in which it is.
- In general, women in fertile stage should consume about 18 mg iron a day,as well as pregnant women and nursing mothers.
- For women over 50 and adult men, the recommendations are reduced to 10 mg of iron per day.
Types of iron in food: heme and iron not heme
Minerals are found naturally in foods that have not been handled. Iron is more easily absorbed from foods of animal origin in its form associated with the heme group, in meats and fish where its absorption is 15-25%.
On the other hand, in its non-heme form, which is the form coming from vegetable foods such as vegetables, seeds and nuts, it is absorbed at a rate of 4-8%. The only food with non-heme iron that has an absorption percentage of 50% is breast milk.
How to increase the absorption of iron from food
The good absorption of iron will depend on the diet. In this way, some foods improve the absorption capacity by the body. Among them the following:
1. Foods rich in vitamin C
Foods rich in vitamin C are beneficial for increasing iron absorption.
Vitamin C is good for anemia. When consumed together with foods rich in non-heme iron, it causes the absorption of it to increase greatly, between two and three times more.
This is because the action of citric acid reduces iron from its iron form to its ferrous form which is much easier to absorb. Therefore, by improving the absorption of iron, we can say that vitamin C is useful to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
Vitamin C has been shown to increase iron absorption. One study showed that taking 100 mg of vitamin C with a meal increased iron absorption by 67%. We find them in:
- Foods like citrus
- Green leafy vegetables
2. Foods with vitamin A and beta-carotenes
Vitamin A plays a key role in maintaining healthy vision, bone growth and the immune system. For its part, beta-carotene is a pigment found in plants and fruits, capable of being transformed by the body into vitamin A. Good sources of beta-carotene are:
- Spinach and kale.
- Red peppers.
- Apricots, oranges and peaches.
A study on 100 people fed on cereals found that the presence of vitamin A increased the absorption of iron up to 200% by consuming rice, 80% with wheat and 140% with corn. However, the addition of beta-carotenes increased it by more than 300% when eating rice and by 180% in the case of wheat and corn.
3. Meats, fish and poultry
In addition to being important sources of iron, meats contribute to increase the absorption of this mineral in the body.
Meat, fish and poultry not only provide iron, but can also stimulate the absorption of iron from the non-heme form. Science notes that the addition of meat, chicken or fish to a cereal-based meal absorbed 2 to 3 times more iron of the non-heme type.
On these facts, the science estimated that 1 gram of meat, fish or poultry provides an enhancing effect similar to that of 1 mg of vitamin C.
4. Vitamins of group B
The B vitamins are also a good way to get the body to absorb more iron. Along with them, folic acid is a great ally, which is why it is highly recommended during pregnancy.
These substances can be found in foods such as whole grains and many varieties of fruits and vegetables. It is a nutrient that should not be lacking in our diet, and not only because it is a good iron fixer, but also because it helps us to maintain some tissues in perfect conditions.
Finally, for a correct absorption of iron we must know how to combine them with foods that potentiate their effects through a balanced and varied diet.