Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Iron is essential for health and transporting oxygen. A deficiency in iron
causes fatigue and decreased immune function. There are two forms of dietary
iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal foods, while nonheme iron
is in plant foods.
The amount of iron that the body obtains and uses from the food is referred to as iron absorption. The iron absorption from heme iron ranges from 15%-35% while the absorption from nonheme iron is only 2%-20%. Evidence does not show any greater iron deficiency anemia in vegetarians than in omnivores, but body iron stores in vegetarians do tend to be lower so it's important to pay attention to your intake. There are ways to increase the absorption of nonheme iron and meet your recommendations:
Consuming vitamin C (citrus fruits, juice, red peppers) at the same time
that you consume foods with nonheme iron will increase iron absorption.
Consuming meat protein at the same time that you consume nonheme iron foods
increases iron absorption.
Calcium, tannins, and phytates interfere with the
absorption of iron. Tannins are found in tea and coffee. Phytates are found in
whole grains and legumes. Take any supplements containing calcium and foods
containing calcium, tannins, or phytates separately from the time you consume
iron-rich foods or an iron supplement.
When you need a supplement, you want one
with ferrous iron salts (ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate, and ferrous
gluconate). The amount of iron that you absorb decreases with increasing doses,
so it's best to spread your supplements out over the day. Iron can be toxic at
high levels, so do not supplement if you do not need to and consult with your
physician before taking a supplement.
Have your iron levels checked by your
Producing and maintaining new cells; helps make DNA; helps maintain
the nervous system
Vegetable and sunflower
Textured vegetable protein
Strong bones; contract and expand blood vessels and muscles; send
message to nervous system; secrete hormones and enzyme
Fortified soy milk
Tofu-made w/calcium sulfate
Transport oxygen; regulation of cell growth and
differentiation; integral part of many proteins and enzymes
Decreased incidence and severity of cardiovascular disease; lowering of
blood pressure in hypertension; prevention and treatment of depression;
decreased risk of type 2 diabetes; prevention of osteoporosis and
osteopenia; decreased inflammation; decreased dental cavities; reduced risk
of allergies in children and adolescents; decreased mortality from various
forms of cancer; decreased incidence of rickets; possible decrease in
erectile dysfunction; and regulation of blood cholesterol
Cod liver oil
Fortified orange juice
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Protect against atherosclerosis; reduce triglyceride levels; act as
an anti-inflammatory; possibly help with depression and other
personality disorders; and possibly thin the blood