Types of iron : Heme vs Non-heme

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Types of iron : Heme vs Non-heme

What is heme iron?

Heme iron is the type of iron found in blood and muscle. It makes up a large portion of the iron in a typical western diet. The “heme” in hemoglobin refers to this form of iron. Heme iron-rich foods include oysters, beef, liver and sardines.

While the exact mechanism of absorption is unclear, it is clear that the body absorbs heme iron more readily than non-heme iron.

What is non-heme iron?

Nonheme iron is found in plant foods like green leafy vegetables, beans, and nuts.  It is not absorbed as readily but allows us to eat more iron-rich plants without worrying about iron toxicity. Foods rich in non-heme iron include spinach, lentils and pumpkin seeds.

Maintaining adequate levels of iron is a delicate balance. Too much or too little iron can be harmful to the body. Today, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional problems in the world.

Here are a few tips for improving iron absorption:

  • eat foods high in vitamin C with foods that contain iron
  • cook your plant foods to improve the amount of available iron
  • avoid having tea, coffee or calcium during or directly after having a source of iron

Please consult your doctor for further information on iron absorption and deficiency.





2019-05-15T15:30:23+00:00 Diet, Health|0 Comments

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