Nutrition Considerations for Women: Iron Intake

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All About Iron

This month, in celebration of Women’s Health Week, we’re putting ladies into the spotlight and diving deeper into everything to do with women’s health. In addition to releasing a women’s health Nutrition Score, we’ll be uncovering some key nutrition considerations for females to keep in mind.

For this blog in particular, we’ll be talking all about iron, a mineral that premenopausal women in particular should be keeping an eye on.

Its Function

Iron is used to make energy. It is also used to make amino acids, collagen, hormones and neurotransmitters. Iron is needed to make hemoglobin and myoglobin which are used to hold oxygen in red blood cells and muscles. Iron is a mineral that the body needs for growth and development and carries oxygen from your lungs to other parts of the body.

Iron deficiency or anemia, is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide (1) and it affects up to 17% of premenopausal women in the United States, with a new study indicating that that figure may even be underestimated (2).

Women Need More Iron Than Men

Women need significantly more iron than their male counterparts – pre-menopausal women are recommended to get at least 18mg of iron per day, versus males at 8mg. This is mostly due to blood loss during menstruation. After menopause though, the recommended intake decreases from 18mg to 8mg per day.

Iron & Your Diet

Iron from certain sources is easier to absorb than others. Those eating a diet of mixed iron sources coming from both animals and plants, will absorb iron at about 18%. Those getting their iron solely from plant sources will see an absorption of about 10%. Your iron targets in Cronometer assume a mixed diet. 

Good sources of iron include liver, mushrooms, mollusks, lima beans and spinach. The amount of iron absorbed from a meal can be increased by eating a source of vitamin C or other acids at the same time. Getting vitamin C at the same time enhances the absorption of iron, especially from plant-based sources. For example, eating strawberries will increase the absorption of iron from spinach in the same meal. 

For those concerned about their iron intake who follow a plant-based diet, take a look at our plant-based Nutrition Score, available to Gold Subscribers.

Tracking Iron In Cronometer

To make sure you’re getting enough iron in your diet, if you’re not already, start tracking your food in Cronometer!

In the mobile app, navigate to your Daily Report and scroll down until you see iron listed under the minerals section. You can also click on this to edit your targets, see your top sources of iron and to learn more information about the mineral in general.

On the web app, you can scroll down on your Diary Screen (main page) to see iron listed under the minerals section. You can hover over to learn more information or click to edit your targets and view your top sources.

Resources

1. The Nutrition Source, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Link

2. Columbia University Irving Medical Centre, Are we underestimating the prevalence of iron deficiency? Link

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