Are you getting enough Iron?

Mar 30, 2015

First, I met with "Dr. G" - Philip Goglia at PFC nutrition.  If you've seen the before and after pics of Chris Pratt for Guardians of the Galaxy, well, Dr. G at PFC nutrition was the mastermind behind that.  He measured the lipid profile of my blood, among other things.  My results were great, but he did say that while my iron levels were fine, it was one thing that I could stand to improve.  Basically, he was telling me to eat more iron-rich foods.

I then had a routine check-up with bloodwork with another doctor.  The results were great ... but, again, while my iron levels were fine, I could stand to have more iron in my diet.

The interesting thing to me was what the doctor told me after he said I could increase my iron.  He started mentioning foods that were high in iron.  Leafy greens ... liver ... dates ... raisins.  

(First, let's get this out of the way: the best sources of iron are animal proteins like liver ... clams ... oysters ... beef ... but not everyone eats these foods.)

So I looked it up myself - what foods are highest in iron, and how do my doctor's recommendations stack up?    

Let's start with how much iron we need.  RDA for a male between 19 and 50 years of age is 8mg per day.  For a female, it's EIGHTEEN miligrams per day.  For a PREGNANT FEMALE, it's a whopping 27mg per day.  

Now, when you look up the foods that are highest in iron, "leafy greens" come up every time, and it's misleading!  Let's look at the facts:

It's not the most scientific approach, but using Google and typing in "how much iron is in ____" gives me some interesting data:


SPINACH: LESS THAN 1mg in one cup

THYME: .1mg in one teaspoon

LENTILS: 6.6mg in one cup

DATES: 1.5mg in one cup

RAISINS: 2.7mg in one cup


Leafy greens like spinach have less than 1mg in one cup.  However, if you boil it, that figure jumps to 6.4g in one cup.  But you know what happens to spinach when you boil it?  It gets smaller - A LOT smaller.  You need almost 6 cups of raw spinach for one cup of boiled.  And who eats boiled spinach nowadays anyway?  

What about juicing then?  Ok, you might get two cups of raw spinach in your green juice.  Maybe they somehow pack 4 cups of spinach in it.  You're still not at even 1mg of iron.  

**Thyme is worth mentioning because there are articles touting different herbs and spices as being high in iron.  It's complete B.S.  Any article that claims herbs and spices are high in certain nutrients are using serving sizes that you would use for regular foods: you don't measure herbs and spices in cups!  I love thyme, but I might not have a cup of it in the next 2-3 years.  

Aah, so we come to lentils.  This isn't a blog touting the power of lentils or urging you to add them to your diet.  I'm using them as an example.  My doctor urged me to eat leafy greens and dates and raisins to increase my iron.  Why didn't he mention lentils?  They have 3-4 times the amount of iron without all the sugar.  The answer is simple: he didn't know.    

Bottom line: When it comes to nutrition, do a little bit of your own research, and be diligent about it.  There's a lot of misdirection out there.  




Category: Nutrition

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