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A day of dietary iron – for women

A nearly all stages of their lives, women are at risk of iron deficiency. So how can we be on top of our iron intake? Registered Nutritionist Regina Wypych took a look at the recommended daily dietary intake (RDI) of iron and created an example of a one day meal plan to show how to get your iron across a day.

At nearly all stages of womanhood us sisters need more iron than our blokes. We’re at risk of iron deficiency at many stages of our lives - as teen girls and young women, starting menstruation and often dabbling with (often ridiculous) dieting, then along comes the pregnancy period where our sweet but parasitic babies in-utero are sucking all the iron out of us, then finally finishing out our pre-menopause years. At each of these periods in our lives (excuse the pun), we’re at risk of iron deficiency or low iron levels, which can really impact on the quality of our lives, sometimes without us even knowing it.

The common signs and symptoms of iron deficiency can often be what we can experience when we’re juggling too many balls in the air, which is often the case with busy mums and women dealing with career, family demands, social lives and too much late night Netflix. Tiredness, headaches, lack of concentration, having no energy are all often attributed to busy lives but can in many cases be due to low iron status. However if these symptoms persist a quick check up with your GP and blood test may be in order.

So how can we be on top of our iron intake? There is a recommended dietary intake (RDI) of iron that we need to eat each day to keep our iron tanks filled. For teen girls (14-18years) it’s around 15mg a day and for adult wahine, aged 19-50 years, it’s 18mg a day. That’s all good I hear you thinking, but what does this look like.

It’s can be quite challenging to get this amount each day, so the first tip is to get dietary iron from a variety of food sources across the day, rather than try to get it all in one meal, which is often what we end up doing. So we’ve created an example of a one day meal plan to show how to get your iron across a day.

Breakfast and Morning Tea

Breakfast

Two pieces of Vogel Bread with peanut butter and a small kiwifruit sliced. This equals 2.2mg of iron.

Morning Tea

Half a cup of mixed dried fruit, seeds and nuts. A good iron-rich combo is dried apricots, pumpkin kernels, and cashews. This equals 2.2mg of iron.

TIP:

Vitamin C helps the body to use non-haem iron. Non-haem iron found in plant foods and is less well absorbed than haem iron, found in animal foods.

Lunch and Afternoon Tea

Lunch

For lunch we're looking at a 90g serving of tuna in spring water, a small egg, three-quarters of a cup of cooked brown rice and quinoa, a cup of mixed greens made up of one tomato, six cucumber slices, and a few slices of pickled onion. This equals 3.9mg of iron.

Afternoon Tea

For Afternoon Tea we've gone with a bright and fresh combination of 125g of Greek Yogurt with half a banana, a quarter cup of blueberries, and a few walnut pieces. This equals 0.9mg of iron.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that this is fairly light on iron, true - we’ve popped this in more for your daily calcium intake!

TIP:

If you're looking to boost your iron make sure that you have those calcium rich foods, such as dairy foods and tea and coffee, between meals as they can reduce iron absorption from your meals.

For dinner we're plating up a delicious serving of Polpettone with some pasta and broccoli (around a cup). This equals 8.5mg of iron.

You'll notice that this dinner does a lot of the heavy-lifting when it comes to meeting the recommended daily intake of iron. That is because red meats like beef and lamb are generally richer in iron than plant-based foods or white meat, poultry and fish, with the redder the meat often having the higher iron content.

To learn more about the importance of iron, who needs it, and some tips for increasing your iron intake and absorption, visit ironweek.co.nz.

Posted by Regina Wypych

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