Iron: Why is it so Important? And, what’s the best Source of Iron?

The truth is that iron is one of many key dietary minerals and crucial nutrients in the human body performing many functions. For that reason, the best butcher and bulk meat store in Brisbane – Pattemores Meats – has decided to help you understand why iron is so important and where you can get the best source of iron from.

Why is Iron so Important?

As we already mentioned, iron is crucial for a number of bodily functions, some of which include:

  • Oxygen transport – Hemoglobin is a complex protein found in the red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. Hemoglobin is to some extent made from iron, i.e. it carries two-thirds of the body’s iron.
  • Myoglobin – This is another protein that helps in the process of storing oxygen in muscle cells. Myoglobin, similar to hemoglobin, contains iron and gives the red colour of muscles.
  • Enzymes – Enzymes are considered catalysts that boost chemical reactions and help in various cell functions. Many enzymes, like those responsible for energy production, contain iron.
  • Immune system – To be able to fight infections and function properly, the immune system requires the body to have sufficient iron levels.

Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and Iron Deficiency

The recommended daily intake of iron varies by age and gender. So, here is a more precise outline:

  • 9 mg – 1-3 year old children
  • 10 mg – 4-8 children
  • 8 mg – 9-13 boys and girls
  • 11 mg – 14-18 boys
  • 15 mg – 14-18 girls
  • 8 mg – adult men
  • 18 mg – 19-50 women
  • 8 mg – 50+ women
  • 27 mg – pregnant women
  • 10 mg – breastfeeding women

If you don’t manage to consume the recommended daily amount of iron, over time it can lead to iron deficiency and anemia (low hemoglobin levels in the blood). Common symptoms of iron deficiency are: fatigue, poor concentration, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, restless leg syndrome, and cognitive impairment in children.

So, we may conclude that iron is of the utmost importance for maintaining good health and productivity. But, how to ensure you get the RDI of iron? Read on and find out.

What’s the Best Source of Iron?

Namely, there are two types of iron in food: haem and non-haem iron. Haem iron comes from animal foods, i.e. it is found in meat, whereas non-haem iron is found in plant foods. What’s more, haem iron gets absorbed in the body around ten times more easily, compared to non-haem iron. That is, the best source of iron is certainly meat.

Haem iron sources:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lamb
  • Kangaroo
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Tuna

Non-haem iron sources:

  • Legumes (chickpeas, beans, and lentils)
  • Green leafy vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach)
  • Nuts (especially almonds and cashews)
  • Seeds (pumpkin and sunflower)
  • Wholegrain cereals (brown rice, quinoa, amaranth, oats)
  • Dried fruits (especially apricots)
  • Firm tofu
  • Eggs

So, to ensure you get the RDI of iron, feel free to visit the best butcher in town – Pattemores Meats – or alternatively, order online for meat delivery.