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Eat Smart: Get your Iron! (FN1436)

Your body needs iron to move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, which is the part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the rest of the body.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Food and Nutrition Specialist

Shannon Medenwald, Program Assistant (former)


My plate

What do you call a cow with only its two right legs?

Lean beef (which also happens to be a great source of iron!)

Did you know?

The body can absorb iron from meat, fish and poultry easier than from other food sources. Help your body use the iron in grains, beans and vegetables by adding a vitamin C-rich food, such as orange juice.

Why do you need iron?

  • To support rapid growth
  • To replace iron that the body uses
  • To have enough energy to learn and play

Your body needs iron to move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, which is the part of your red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the rest of the body.

Get enough iron – but not too much. Many kids in the U.S. have “iron deficiency anemia.” They do not get enough iron in their daily diet. Kids ages 4 to 8 need about 10 milligrams (mg) of iron a day. Kids ages 9 to 13 need 8 mg per day.

Eat a variety of foods and include iron-rich foods in your meals and snacks every day to be sure you are getting enough.

These are some good sources of iron:

  • Lean meat (3.2 milligrams/3-ounce patty)
  • Tuna and salmon (1.1 mg/3 ounces)
  • Iron-enriched and whole-grain breads and cereals (.9 mg/1 slice of bread)
  • Cooked dried beans (4.1 mg/1 cup)
  • Leafy, green vegetables (1.9 mg/½ cup of spinach)
  • Eggs (0.7 mg/egg)
  • Raisins (0.8 mg/1/4 cup)

This tasty recipe is a good source of iron:

Beef Sloppy Joes

2 lb. extra-lean ground lean beef

1 onion, chopped

1 c. ketchup

1 c. tomato juice

1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

8 whole-wheat buns

1. Brown meat and onion in a large skillet.

2. Drain fat and add remaining ingredients.

3. Simmer for about one hour.

4. Serve on open hamburger buns.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 340 calories, 26 grams (g) carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 2 g fiber and 20 percent of the daily value for iron.

“Eat Smart. Play Hard.” is an initiative of the Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Materials were partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

 

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