Iron is a mineral that is an important part of our red blood cells. It is needed to carry oxygen from our lungs to our cells, muscles and organs. If we do not get enough iron, not enough oxygen will be delivered to our muscles and organs. Without enough oxygen, our muscles and organs cannot work properly and we will feel tired and weak.
Women are at risk of being iron deficient because they lose blood and iron during menstruation. Breastfeeding and pregnancy also increase a woman's need for iron.
We get a little bit of iron from a lot of different foods. The iron that we get from meat, poultry and fish is used easily by the body. Eggs, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, clams and oysters are all good sources of iron. Plant foods such as soybeans, lentils, kidney beans, spinach and leafy green vegetables, and flour contain iron, but it may not be absorbed as well as the iron found in meat. Iron from these foods is better absorbed when it is eaten with foods rich in vitamin C. It is best to get the iron we need from many different foods in our meals and snacks.
To find out how much iron you need, "Ask the Nutritionist."
For more information on vitamin C read the "Vitamin C" file.
To test what you know about iron, take the Quiz on Iron.
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