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Iron is important to a woman's diet

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Women face high risk of anemia

By Josey Crew

Women are at a high risk for developing iron-deficiency anemia, especially those who are pregnant, teenage girls and those who have heavy periods. Iron is important to have in the diet because it makes hemoglobin which supplies oxygen to the body. Iron helps to build and maintain healthy blood and help your cells to make energy.

Some common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia are feeling fatigued, weak, dizzy and sometimes craving non-food items like ice chips, clay or dirt.

Here are some general recommendations of how much iron you need each day:

• Girls (14-18 years): 15mg

• Boys (14-18 years): 11mg

• Women (19-50 years): 18 mg, 27mg if pregnant, and 9 mg if breastfeeding

• Men (19+ years) and women (51+ years): 8 mg

Even if you are getting your recommended amount of iron for the day and your iron level is still low, you might need to take a closer look at what you are drinking. Coffee and tea contain a substance called tannic acid which blocks iron absorption. If you do many of these drinks during the day, you probably need to limit or eliminate them for the sake of your iron. Another tip that might help your iron level is to cook your foods in an iron skillet. 

Some good sources of iron are iron fortified cereal, oatmeal, dried beans or peas, shrimp, spinach and raisins. There are also many meat and protein rich foods that are good sources such as chicken, turkey, ground beef, pork loin, tuna and egg.  If your iron is low and you have trouble fitting these foods into your diet, you may need to talk to your doctor about an iron supplement.

Josey Crew, RD, LD is a clinical dietitian for Lincoln Trail District Health Department. Nutrition counseling is available for children and adults by appointment at the LaRue County Health Center. Monthly classes are also offered for weight loss and people with diabetes. For further information, call 270-358-3844.