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Iron deficiency (sideropenia or hypoferremia) is widely regarded as the world’s most common nutritional deficiency.  Iron is a functional part of all of the body’s cells and its main function in the body is to bond with our blood cells and carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron is also responsible for storing oxygen in our bodies for the cells to use. It’s responsible for our blood’s red color. Without it, various cells in the body will lack oxygen, and we would experience a wide range of difficulties such as fatigue, shortness or difficulty breathing, pallor, and heart palpitations. 
Men and women have a different daily recommended intake for iron, since women of child-bearing age (and growing children) have a higher demand for it. But the general range is 10-18 milligrams of iron a day. Pregnant women should have at least 27 milligrams per day (see chart above for full listing). 
Iron Deficiency Disorders
Iron deficiency disorders are typically caused by diseases that impair proper absorption into the blood, or those which cause blood loss. Untreated iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia (a lack of red blood cells) — a common type of anemia. Stomach ulcers, colon cancer, and menstrual disorders that cause heavy bleeding should be addressed immediately to prevent the more serious complications of iron deficiency anemia.
Symptoms Of Iron Deficiency Include;
• General body weakness
• Pale, thinning, brittle nails
• Sleep disturbances or insomnia
• Sore tongue
• Sensitivity to cold or a low body temperature
• Loss of interest in activities and relationships
• Chronic fatigue
• Shortness of breath even after doing commonly easy tasks
• Restless leg syndrome
• Pica (the desire to eat inedible items) 
Pregnancy (although of course not a disorder) makes iron deficiency more prevalent. Pregnant and expecting mothers should consider iron supplementation in addition to the iron that they get from their diet.
You may have to consult your health care provider if you take iron pills, as these have reactions with different types of diseases and medications. Your health care provider should advise you on how to get enough iron if you take HIV medicines, NSAIDS, and/or if you have the following conditions:
• Diverticular disease
• Stomach Ulcers
• Inflammation of the colon, stomach, or intestines
• Iron metabolism disorder
• Hemolytic anemia
• Celiac disease
• Pernicious anemia
• Crohn’s Disease
• Hormonal imbalances
These disorders affect how your body processes or absorbs iron. 
Having too much Iron: Hemachromatosis
Hemachromatosis is also called iron overload. It’s a condition characterized by having too much iron in the body. Although rare, this condition can occur in families who have blood problems. Hemachromatosis can also be caused by having a lot of blood transfusions, liver disease, taking too much iron pills, or alcoholism.  Donating blood or chelation therapy are treatments addressed for people who have too much iron, and these are administered by health care practitioners.
Best sources of Iron
Iron is found in meats, vegetables, fruits and grains. The difference lies in the type of iron in them. Heme iron is iron found in food products that produce blood, such as beef, chicken, and pork. Non-heme iron on the other hand, is from food products that don’t contain blood – such as vegetables and fruits.
Although heme iron is better absorbed by our bodies, non-heme sources may be just as good if we ingest it with vitamin C-rich food, and if the food is cooked in a metal pot or skillet. 
10 14 IRON-RICH FOODS
MEAT AND EGGS
Beef (Lean Tenderloin)
This is the probably no other food out there that provides the same variety of health benefits found in beef. It is known to be rich in protein, nutrients and minerals. Most people combat iron-deficiency through eating beef because of its high levels of iron which is very suitable for people suffering from anemia. Pregnant and lactating women are suggested to eat more beef during these times to sustain their iron stores. Serving size: 100g, 3.69mg of Iron (21% DV), 222 calories
Guarding the body from anemia is the primary health benefit of Chicken Liver. It has three times the daily value of Vitamin B12, which is necessary in the prevention of this illness. It also promotes good eyesight because of its high level of Vitamin A. And guess what else? If you’re planning to get pregnant, trying eating lots of chicken liver, it helps you in getting more fertile because of its 560mg folate content. Serving size: 100g, 11.63mg of Iron (65% DV), 167 calories
This has been the most famous thanksgiving meal of all, TURKEY. Besides from gaining fans in the world of low-fat diets, this white meat has so much more to offer other than having a lot of protein. It’s also a good source of Vitamin B, B1, B6, Zinc and Potassium. Many have been favorably eating it because of the naturally low fat content it has (without skin). Serving size: 1 cup chopped, 2.49mg of Iron (14% DV), 238 calories
Eating a single yolk a day would offer you more nutrients than taking one multivitamin. Consumption of eggs provides health benefits for people who are deficient in magnesium, calcium and iron. In contrast to the “old belief” that egg yolk could lead to heart diseases because of its high cholesterol content, egg yolks are actually good for the heart. Deficient diets, poor metabolism and toxins are what cause heart diseases. Serving size: 1 large egg yolk, 0.46mg of Iron (3% DV), 54 calories
Did you know that clams have higher iron content than t-bone steaks and beef liver? Clams are also considered to be the richest iron giving food in the seafood category. Just 3 ounces of clams can already give you more than the recommended daily value of iron in a day! Serving size: 3 ounces, 24mg of Iron (133% DV), 186 calories
Here’s another culinary favorite. If you’re fond of watching all those reality cooking shows such as Masterchef, then you must have observed that scallops are one of the most highly-recognized main ingredients in the world of food. Besides being a sweet and delectable meal, scallops are also known to prevent cardiovascular diseases. The amount of nutrients and minerals it contains is impeccably high, which makes it the perfect combination of health and pleasure. Serving size: 3 ounces, 2.55mg of iron (14% DV), 75 calories
One of the healthiest vegetables, the benefits of spinach are well known. It’s currently reigning to be on the top of the “super foods” list due to the number of nutrients and minerals it contains. However note that spinach contains other substances that actually limit the bioavailability of the iron it contains!  Serving size: 1 cup, 6.4mg of Iron (36%DV), 41 calories
Like other vegetables, potatoes are also jam-packed with Vitamin C which helps in Iron absorption. Since it’s also use mainly as a side dish for most recipes, you can try combining potatoes with roast beef or other vegetable recipes to get a fuller and more satisfied stomach. Serving size: 1 medium potato (with skin), 3.2mg of Iron (18% DV), 278 calories
Remember this one? The one mom and dad repeatedly told you to eat when you were a child? Maybe it’s time to start eating this wonder-veg again. If you’re a vegetable lover already, you probably appreciate the so many health benefits given out by broccoli. Packed with Vitamin C and other great nutrients, this veggie can also make it easier for your system to absorb iron. And that’s when you realize, mom was right. Serving size: 1 cup, 0.3mg of Iron (2% DV), 15 calories
BREAD AND CEREALS
An all-time favorite breakfast because it’s easy to make, it helps us control our weight and it’s packed with omega-3. Oatmeal is recommended for those people, who are low on iron, especially those kinds who are busy enough to prepare a home-cooked meal. For better tasting oatmeal, try adding in a bunch of fruit, or cocoa powder. Fruit contains Vitamin C which helps in the absorption of Iron and Cocoa Powder is also a rich source in Iron, so it’s also an advantage for getting a healthier and tastier snack. Serving size: 1 cup, 1.7mg of Iron (8% DV), 154 calories
The dessert industry would have to cry if strawberries weren’t around. The iron and vitamin C combination found in strawberries have made it a perfect fruit to eat for those people who are low on Iron. Try making a smoothie or pairing strawberries with chocolates to extract more of that luscious sweetness. Serving size: 1 pint, 1.46mg of Iron (8% DV), 114 calories
Just seeing the oozing juice from a fresh watermelon tickles my taste buds and gives me an illusion of summer. Fruits have already established richness in Vitamin C, which is also good if you’re looking for iron rich foods. It also helps to strengthen immunity, heal wounds, repair damaged cells and get stronger teeth and gums. Serving size: 1 melon, 10.84mg of Iron (60% DV), 1355 calories
BEANS AND OTHER FOODS
Tofu is one of the most favorite Asian cuisines of all time. Although most people from other regions don’t quite appreciate it because of its bland taste, but the secret to cooking tofu is actually soy sauce. Getting the right sauce can actually turn your depressing tofu experience upside down. Vegans often say that this one here is a direct substitute for meat due to its protein content. Serving size: Ω cup, 3.4mg of magnesium (19% DV), 88 calories
You know you love reading this one. I know you’re most likely aware by this time that Dark Chocolate is good for the heart and other detoxifying health benefits. Well, it just keeps on getting better. It’s also loaded with iron and magnesium. Take in moderation because of the sugar content; you can also consider pure cacao or simply dark chocolate with the highest percentage cacao available. Serving: 100g, 6.3mg of Iron (35% DV), 578 calories
image – © BillionPhotos.com – fotolia.com
 Iron Deficiency Anemia. National Health Service. Retrieved from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Introduction.aspx
 Iron and Iron Deficiency. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html
 Iron Deficiency Anemia. Iron Disorders Institute. Retrieved from http://www.irondisorders.org/iron-deficiency-anemia
 Iron Contraindications. WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-59021/daily-multivitamin-with-iron-oral/details/list-contraindications
 Hemachromatosis. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/hemochromatosis/Pages/facts.aspx
 Dietary Sources of Iron. McKinley Health Center. Retrieved from http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/dietary_sources_iron.html
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