Fostering a Gentler, Healthier and more Compassionate World for all Living Beings

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What about Iron?

 

Iron is a trace element which is needed by the body for the formation of blood. The human body normally contains 3-4g of iron, more than half of which is in the form of haemoglobin, the red pigment in blood. Haemoglobin transports oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. Iron is a constituent of a number of enzymes. The muscle protein myoglobin contains iron, as does the liver - an important source during the first six months of life. The body's iron balance varies mainly according to dietary intake, as losses from the body are generally small - although women lose iron during menstruation.

Iron Requirements

In 1991 the UK's Department of Health recommended Reference Nutrient Intakes (RNI) for iron was as follows. The RNI is a daily amount that is enough or more than enough for 97% of people. The RNI is similar to the Recommended Daily Amount used previously in the UK.

Type of Person

Amounts Required(mg/day)

infants from 0-3 months

1.7

rising at 12 months

7.8

children

6.1 - 8.7

teenagers

11.3 - 14.8

men

8.7

women

14.8

The US Recommended Dietary Allowances are similar at 10mg a day for adult men and post-menopausal women; 15mg for adolescents and pre-menopausal women, and an additional 15mg a day for pregnant women.

Vegan Sources of Iron

Good plant sources of iron include dried fruits, whole grains (including wholemeal bread), nuts, green leafy vegetables, seeds and pulses. Other foods rich in iron but which are usually eaten in smaller amounts include soya flour, parsley, watercress, black molasses and edible seaweeds. The use of ironware when cooking foods also contributes to dietary intake.

Examples of amounts of foods providing 2mg iron

Type of food

Quantity (g)

Pistachios

14

Cashews (roasted)

32

Whole lentils

57

Chick peas (boiled)

95

Wholemeal bread

74

Sesame seeds or tahini

19

Black molasses

22

Apricots (dried)

59

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