Iron deficiency is quite a common health problem than you would expect it to be. After all, the usual diet consists of red meat, so why will lack of iron be a problem?
Keto diet opts for protein rather than carbohydrates. That being said, it is safe to assume that because you are consuming copious amounts of protein, iron deficiency will not be an issue, right?
There is a thing called keto iron deficiency.
How did this happen?
Okay, first. Let us discuss just how much iron should an individual be getting in a day. Knowing this will help you escape the wrath of keto iron deficiency.
Below is a complete guide for daily iron needs (factors involved are gender and age):
Infants up to 12 months
11 mg in a day
Children up to 12 years old
7 – 10 mg in a day, but dependent on the age
15 mg in a day
11 mg in a day
27 mg in a day
Adult woman (premenopausal)
18 mg in a day
8 mg in a day
Adult woman (post-menopausal)
8 mg in a day
But just how much is an average individual taking?
Women seem to be lacking in this department. Men can consume up to 16 to 18 milligrams of iron daily, but the women’s average iron intake is only 12 milligram a day.
To give you an idea of just how a woman can meet her daily iron requirement, she will need about 60 ounces of chicken white meat or 23 ounces beef red meat. Shocker, right?
Red meat is always considered as a wonderful source of iron. So, it is a little weird that it a lot of people are suffering deficiency from this mineral.
Well, guess what? Red meat consumption has decreased dramatically because of what many people are taught of it. This is why the chicken industry flourished. The recent years did damage to the red meat’s population. So many people have been deeming it unhealthy and have attributed many diseases if you regularly consume red meat.
This is not true, of course. Not all foods are superfoods, but red meat is nutrient dense. And red meat is one of the best keto friendly foods out there.
How does an individual absorb iron?
You may be gobbling down on beef and chicken and munching kale on the side, but still come up short when it comes to your daily iron consumption. It happens. Just because you are consuming them in your mouth does not mean they are readily absorbed inside the body. There are two types of iron gets absorbed into our system.
A quick explanation of the two would be: heme iron comes from animals and gets absorbed up to 35% into the system; non-heme iron is the one that came from animals and gets absorbed only up to 35.
Am I iron deficient?
If you are unsure if you are suffering from iron deficiency and is in need of keto foods rich in iron, here are some telltale signs:
Always feeling tired
Mouth sores, especially at the corners
Weird food cravings
Restless leg syndrome
Lowered immune system
Keto Friendly Foods that are Rich in Iron
Here are some healthy food ideas that will help you maintain healthy levels of iron without having to compromise your restricted carbohydrates intake:
1. Dark chocolate
Hello, sweets lovers! There are not so many keto-friendly foods that will satisfy your sweet tooth, so dark chocolate is there to save the day. There are also added benefits that go with munching this delectable treat. It also has potassium, zinc, and magnesium! Try to avoid commercial dark chocolates and only choose ones that have 85% cocoa.
2. Chicken liver
Are you tired of eating chicken, beef, and pork meat? Give this a try. It is just as delicious. Although, there may be a slight difference in texture. Of all the keto-friendly foods, organ meats are considered to have one of the highest iron content.
Aside from kale, this healthy leafy green is considered one of the best in terms of delivering a good amount of nutrients into the body. It is best if you steam or boil it, instead of eating it raw, to get rid of the oxalates.
Almonds are one of the healthiest keto foods high in iron of the plant variety. You can munch on them for snacks or add them as toppings on your favorite meals.
Yes, these sea creatures are one of the keto foods rich in iron. Although, not everyone can be a fan of baked oysters, eating them occasionally has a lot of benefits. It is rich in iron, around 9.2 milligrams in just a 100 grams of oysters.
6. Swiss Chard
For salad lovers, you can enjoy this leafy vegetable by adding salmon, cherry tomatoes, cheese, and olives. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and you have yourself a perfect keto meal that is rich in iron and other nutrients. Swiss Chard has almost the same nutrient profile as spinach, so it is a good idea to include it in your diet.
These six foods are healthy and low in calories. These are only alternative options to the usual meat you eat every day. So, you will not run out of options. Meats like lamb and goat make also iron-rich meals.
While incorporating these in your diet to boost your iron level, make sure you are not adding foods that can counter the absorption of the mineral into your body. Foods that contain phytic acid and polyphenols should be avoided. These include soybeans, nuts, seeds, coffee, and grains.
If you are worried that you may be taking in more iron than necessary, you really do not have to. It is impossible to consume too much when you are just depending on diet alone. However, you may have to be wary if you are taking supplements. This can easily place excessive amounts in the blood.