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Nutrition - Iron

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Do you remember Popeye the Sailorman, an old-school cartoon character? He was small, but incredibly strong and muscular - and that's because he had a spinach obsession! Spinach is one of the foods that is rich in iron, a vitamin that is an essential part of your diet. Read on for the 411 on this mineral.

Iron - Why Is It Good For You?

Iron helps produce hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body's tissues. There are two kinds of iron: heme iron is found in red meats, fish and poultry, and is better-absorbed than non-heme iron, which is found in enriched cereals, leafy veggies and raisins. Iron is also necessary for proper muscle and organ function, and it fills our bodies with energy. If you're feeling tired and weak, have decreased school performance or have difficulty maintaining body temperature, chances are that you may be suffering from an iron deficiency. Girls are at greater risk for iron deficiency than guys, who usually have enough iron in their bodies to last several years. However, girls can lose large amounts of iron because of menstruation.

Iron - What Foods Can It Be Found In?

Unlike calcium, which is already found in your body, iron can only be obtained from food. It's found in everything from raisins to red meat, such as liver. Other good sources of iron are fish, eggs, beans and leafy green vegetables, like spinach and lettuce. Eating breakfast is a great way to fill up on iron - try an iron-enriched cereal, such as bran flakes, and add raisins for sweetness and flavor. And top your meal off with a glass of prune juice - it may not taste great, but it'll definitely fuel your bod with energy. Generally, only about five to 10 percent of the iron in food is absorbed, unless there are low levels of iron in the body, such as after menstrual bleeding.

Iron - Did U Know?

  • The recommended daily intake of iron for kids and teens aged nine to 18 years old is eight to 15 mg.
  • Adding vitamin C to your diet helps your body absorb iron more effectively.
  • As many as 20 percent of all girls, and up to 80 percent of girls who exercise, may be iron deficient.
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