• Iron Rich Foods: Quick Read

    Y’all, one of my readers has a bun in the oven! And I am SO excited about it!

    Her meat aversion displeases me though. Because she needs to function and continue being a badass while also growing a tiny, complete person. And all that requires energy, which her red blood cells will not facilitate well without a solid dietary source of iron.

    So this week’s quick read is a list of iron rich foods that do not come from cows. Or meat of any kind.

    First things first though.

    Iron Is Important

    I just read about 30 pages worth of material detailing why we need iron in our lives. It was like the Charles Dickens of nutrition, y’all. And you know what it all lead up to?

    Humans need iron in their diet. For living. And breathing. And forming tiny humans.

    Importantly, science tells us that iron deficiency in pregnant ladies increases the risk of preterm delivery and low birthweight. So I’d like my lovely reader to get all her iron. And deliver a full term chubby cheeked cutie.

    Iron Needs Vary With Age

    But don’t worry. The CDC has an awesome table that spells it all out. And if that’s not enough for you, you can read the encyclopedia of iron science I just read.

    Yes children, encyclopedias are books from olden times. It’s where the internet lived before Al Gore put it in computers.

    Anyway, back to iron requirements (courtesy of the CDC):

    Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Iron [5]
    Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
    Birth to 6 months 0.27 mg* 0.27 mg*
    7–12 months 11 mg 11 mg
    1–3 years 7 mg 7 mg
    4–8 years 10 mg 10 mg
    9–13 years 8 mg 8 mg
    14–18 years 11 mg 15 mg 27 mg 10 mg
    19–50 years 8 mg 18 mg 27 mg 9 mg
    51+ years 8 mg 8 mg

    * Adequate Intake (AI)

    So my pregnant reader needs to find a way to get 27 mg of iron every day from foods that don’t activate her hurl receptors. As long as she hasn’t gone full vegetarian.

    If meat makes a complete exit from my reader’s diet, then she needs 1.8 times the regular amount of iron. Because iron derived from plant sources is harder to absorb. So she’d have to get more of it for the same nutritional effect.

    Let’s see how she can do that.

    Many (Non-Beef) Foods Are Iron Rich

    The USDA has this amazing database that lets you search any food by a nutrient. If you look up iron in this database, you’ll find out that dried thyme is the most iron-rich food in the whole database. It has 123.6 mg of iron per 100 g.

    I don’t think my reader wants to exist on thyme alone though. I know I don’t. So I’ve listed what look like the most appetizing and convenient non-cow-derived foods and their iron content below.


    Now I personally have been looking for an excuse to eat exclusively Honey Bunches of Oats for most of my life. That stuff is addictive like Netflix.

    But, I would caution any reader against that, even tough it’s on this list. Most breakfast cereals have pretty high levels of aluminum. And since y’all know how I feel about unnecessary aluminum in your body, you can probably guess what I’m about to say.

    Breakfast cereals shouldn’t replace meat if you’re trying to supplement iron.

    But mint, seaweed, and spinach can. Plus lentils and chickpeas. And chocolate.

    So my pregnant reader can skip the burgers and head straight for the tofu with brownies for dessert. Because it’s good for her and her little nugget.

    Track Your Nutrients

    One other note here. There are certain nutrients that you want to get not too little, not too much, but just the right amount. You want to hit that Goldilocks Zone.

    But that’s so hard to keep track of!!

    I know. Believe me. That’s why I LOVE this new app I’ve been using for the last several months – Cronometer. They have free and paid versions – I use the free one.

    I love that in either version you can input your food and drinks, and it tracks everything. So you can see when you have a headache, Gatorade will fix it on account of your electrolytes being low. Or that your afternoon fatigue is probably because your B vitamins are missing today. And inconveniently, that you should lay off the doughnuts because your calories today have come 95% from carbs.

    For my reader, this is probably the easiest way to track her iron intake, folic acid, calcium, postassium, magnesium. Basically all the things you’re trying to pay attention to as a healthy pregnant lady. Or a healthy non-pregnant person.

    So I highly recommend it for making your life easier and helping you feel better by allowing you to really optimize your nutrition.

    Alright, that’s it for this week’s quick read. But let’s sum it up real quick for people who are lazy like me.

    Quick Read in a Nutshell

    Pregnant ladies need 27 mg of iron daily if they’re eating meat, and 48.6 mg of iron daily if they’re not eating meat.

    The CDC has a great list of iron-rich foods <–here.

    Cronometer will track nutrients, minerals, calories, carbs, and pretty much anything else you eat.

    Alright, that’s the whole shabang. Did I miss anything or confuse you? Let me know in the comments or send your feedback straight to my inbox.

    Y’all have a great weekend!

    Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash