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Are You Getting Enough Iron?

Always Tired? The One Thing That Could Be to Blame

You get plenty of sleep and you're not catching a cold, yet lately you feel rundown, have crazy headaches, and can't focus at work. It may have something to do with how much iron you're getting in your diet.

An adult woman should aim for 18 milligrams of iron a day, and if you're not reaching this goal, you may have anemia, an iron deficiency. Our bodies need iron to make hemoglobin, a substance in red blood cells that enables them to carry oxygen. If your cells aren't getting oxygen, that explains the tired, foggy head. You may also notice pale skin, brittle nails, and cold hands.

You may be at risk for low levels of iron if you tend to have heavy periods, are pregnant, or just had a baby. Other at-risk individuals include endurance athletes, vegans, and individuals who donate blood frequently or have a condition that makes it hard to absorb nutrients from food. You can take iron supplements, but they may cause an upset stomach, heartburn, or constipation, so it's best to get your iron from food. Check out the list below to see which foods contain the most iron so you can be sure to get your fill.

Food Amount Iron (mg)
Apricot, dried 1/2 cup halves 1.2
Artichoke 1 medium 0.7
Asparagus, cooked 1/2 cup 0.8
Barley, cooked 1 cup 2.1
Beans (garbanzo) 1/2 cup 1.6
Beans (kidney) 1/2 cup 2
Beans (lima) 1/2 cup 2.3
Beans (pinto) 1/2 cup 1.8
Broccoli, cooked 1/2 cup 0.5
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 0.8

Continue reading for more sources of iron.

Food Amount Iron (mg)
Cashews 1/4 cup 2
Cashew butter 2 tbsp. 1.6
Egg 1 large 0.7
Flaxseed, ground 1 tbsp. 0.4
Fortified cereal such as Wheat Chex 3/4 cup 13.5
Ground beef 1 patty 1.9
Kale, raw 1cup 1.1
Lentils 1/2 cup 3.3
Molasses 1 tbsp 0.9
Oats 1 cup 3.4
Oysters, cooked 3 oz 10.2
Peanuts 1/4 cup 0.6
Peanut butter 2 tbsp. 0.6
Pine nuts 1/4 cup 1.9
Potatoes, with the skin 1 small 1.5
Pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup 5.2
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 2.8
Raisins 1/4 cup 0.8
Salmon 3 oz. 0.9
Shrimp, cooked 3 oz. 2.6
Soybeans (edamame) 1/2 cup 1.8
Spinach, raw 1 cup 0.8
Steak 3 oz. 3.2
Sun-dried tomatoes 1/4 cup 1.2
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 1.8
Sunflower seed butter 2 tbsp. 1.6
Tofu, extra firm 1/2 block 4.3
Turkey (dark meat) 3 oz. 2.1

Source: Thinkstock
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