Purdue extension columnist are you getting enough iron lifestyles goshennews.com white rice sugar content

Several of you have called with the following question, “what are good sources of iron?” iron is a mineral that functions primarily as a carrier of oxygen in the body, both as a part of hemoglobin in the blood and myoglobin in the muscles. According to recent USDA surveys, more than three-fourths of american women 19 to 50 years of age had iron intakes below 80 percent of their recommended daily allowance (RDA). Average RDA intake was 67 percent of the recommended daily allowance. Men of the same age met their RDA.

The ability of the body to absorb and utilize iron from different foods varies. The iron in meat, poultry and fish is absorbed and utilized more readily than iron in other foods. The presence of these animal products in a meal increases the availability of iron from other foods. The presence of vitamin C ascorbic acid in a meal also increases iron absorption.

The body increases or decreases iron absorption according to need and absorbs iron more efficiently when iron stores are low and during growth spurts or pregnancy.Daily allowance

The most common indication of poor iron status is iron deficiency anemia, a condition in which the size and number of red blood cells are reduced. This condition may result from inadequate intake of iron or from blood loss. The best way to get enough iron is to eat a variety of foods. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need supplements. Intakes of iron tend to be low in relation to recommendations and there aren’t that many foods that are real good sources. As a result, it may take an extra effort on your part to ensure an adequate intake of iron.

Many doctors recommend feeding a fortified milk formula or breakfast cereal, or giving an iron supplement to infants and toddlers. These are recommended because it is especially difficult to meet their iron needs. Doctors usually prescribe iron supplements for pregnant and lactating women.

Good sources of iron are the meat and poultry group. The highest amount of iron is found in 3 ounces of pork liver and steamed, boiled or canned clams.Foods presence these three ounces will supply 40 percent of the U.S. RDA. For foods that provide 25-39 percent of the U.S. RDA, select 2/3 cup of cooked regular or quick farina, 2/3 cup of oatmeal, fortified cereals, beef, chicken or turkey liver, oysters, shrimp and 1/2 cup of cooked soybeans. Three ounces of some fish, most beef, pork, lamb and poultry, most fortified bread, cereal and other grain products, 1/2 cup of dry beans, peas and lentils, two tablespoons of pine nuts and hulled or roasted pumpkin seeds will give you 10 to 24 percent of the U.S. RDA for iron.

To help food retain the iron, cook it in a minimal amount of water for the shortest possible time. Serving size varies as the amount of nutrients in a serving depends on the weight of the serving. For example, 1/2 cup of cooked spinach contains more than 1/2 cup raw spinach because the cooked spinach weighs more. Therefore, cooked spinach would go on a list of foods high in iron and raw spinach would not.Cooked spinach raw spinach provides the nutrients, but just not enough in a ½ cup serving to be considered a good source.