The mineral iron is vital for healthy blood and normal growth and development. Due to monthly blood losses women need more dietary iron than men (14mg compared to 10mg). This is of concern because according to the most recent National Nutrition Survey 61% of women, 18-64 years, have inadequate iron intakes with 1 in 3 Irish women having low iron stores, and 1 in 30 having iron deficiency anaemia.
It is not just the quantity of iron in our diets that counts because there are different types of iron in different foods. The one present in meat is absorbed much more easily than the one in fruit vegetables and cereals.
Red meat is one of the best sources of easily absorbed iron - it can be absorbed up to seven times more easily than iron in vegetables, cereals, fruits or nuts. Meat, eaten at the same meal, can help to increase the absorption of iron from vegetables, cereals, fruits and nuts. A good source of vitamin C (e.g. orange or grapefruit juice) can also help to promote the absorption of iron from these foods. Therefore, to boost your iron intake, try to include rich sources of iron (e.g. beef, pork or lamb) in your diet three to four times per week. Also, be clever about how you combine your foods at mealtimes to make the most of the less well absorbed iron.
* Pregnant women should not eat liver because of its high vitamin A content.
Nutrition is an important factor in determining optimal sports performance. An inadequate diet can prevent you from reaching your true potential.