Iron Food

Importance of iron from the first stages of life

Iron allows the formation of red blood cells in necessary quantities and helps oxygen reach the organs and tissues of the body.

The body needs different macro (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and micro (vitamins and minerals) -nutrients to develop optimally and each of them fulfills a specific function.

The presence of iron is necessary in a human being from gestation in the mother's womb. Iron is what allows the formation of red blood cells in necessary quantities and helps oxygen reach the organs and tissues of the body. A pregnant woman needs more iron, since the blood volume increases during pregnancy and even when the baby is born, there is blood loss and iron is the element that will help to recover it, that is, so that the mother can regenerate the lost blood .[1]

The insufficiency of this mineral at this stage can cause the baby to have low birth weight, or to be premature and in more extreme situations it can even interfere with their brain and cognitive development.

For babies who receive Breastfeeding exclusively, they get enough iron from their mother's milk. This period should cover from birth to six months of life, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). [2]

However, if a baby cannot be breastfed for any other reason, they should be fed with an infant formula that has an adequate addition of micronutrients, including iron, so that they can obtain the amount that their body requires to adequate growth and development.

When starting the complementary diet, after the first six months, iron-fortified foods should be introduced. It is important to remember that the body does not produce it by itself, it gets it from what you eat, depending on your age, it is the optimal amount.

For example, children between one and three years old need seven milligrams of iron a day, while between four and eight years old, they require ten milligrams daily, and so the amounts change depending on the stage.

The intestine only absorbs between 15 and 20 percent of what we consume through food, therefore to increase its absorption it is recommended to combine it in the same intake, with foods rich in Vitamin C like oranges, peppers, broccoli, or tomato, for example.

It should also be noted that there are two types of iron according to its origin; the one obtained from animal protein is known as "Heme iron" And it's in all meats, especially low-fat red ones. Also fish and chicken have it in high levels.

The second is that of plant origin is known as "Non-heme iron" and we can find it in vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, nuts, lentils, beans, corn tortillas, quinoa among others.[3]

Finally, let us remember that iron helps to have a better physical performance, in addition to contributing in an important way to increasing functions such as reasoning ability, learning or memory, therefore it is considered essential in the development of the child in the first stages of life .

What Happens When You Have Low Iron Levels?

The main function of iron involves the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. When you have low iron levels, you can develop iron deficiency anemia.

In reality, this is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, affecting more than 30 percent of people worldwide.

The good news is that there are methods to help raise iron levels quickly.

How to increase iron levels quickly?

Together, the following methods can help raise iron levels.

  1. Limit Foods That Decrease Absorption - Some foods will block your digestive system's ability to absorb iron. This means that no matter how much iron you eat, your body will not get all of it. The oxalic acid in certain green vegetables like spinach can bind to iron in your gut, interfering with absorption. Other offenders include whole grains, dairy products, tea, coffee, soft drinks and chocolate.
  2. Eat more foods with heme iron: Food sources with heme iron are seafood, fish, and meat.

Eating these sources of iron will help you increase your iron stores quickly. Some of the best options are chicken liver, beef liver, and oysters.

  1. How to quickly increase iron levels as a vegetarian?

Try foods with non-heme iron. Green leafy vegetables and legumes like pumpkin seeds, beans, lentils, and tofu are good options to avoid consuming animal products, with a good amount of iron with plant-based foods.

  1. Choose foods fortified with iron

With today's advancements, you can buy iron-fortified foods.

While they will be more processed and therefore may be high in salt, sugar, and fat without much fiber, they will help you get your iron levels up quickly.

  1. Get more vitamin C

Vitamin C actually increases your body's absorption of iron, so try drinking some orange juice with an iron-rich meal.

  1. Use cast iron pots

Interestingly, the type of iron you need to consume is the same as that found in metal cookware. That means cooking with cast iron pots and pans will actually leach some iron into what you eat.

  1. Take supplements.

One of the ways to increase your iron levels is by taking Supplements.

Finally, a healthy and balanced diet is always the best answer to maintain an immune system in good condition, as well as an intake of sufficient vitamins and minerals such as iron.

What foods are rich in iron?

To increase your iron intake, try to include these foods in your grocery store for their iron content:

Meat and eggs - Seafood - Bread and cereals - Lamb - Veal - Ham - Chicken - Turkey - Veal - Pork - Liver - Liver pate - Eggs - Scallops - Sardines - Mackerel - Enriched white bread - Vegetables - Fruits - Beans and other foods - Sweet potatoes - Broccoli - Peas - Beet greens - Green beans - Dandelion leaves - Kale - Swiss chard - Cabbages

[1] Facts about Iron

[2] Breastfeeding in the first months of life.

[3] Facts about iron

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