Vitamin D and iron are two very important essential nutrients required by the body for normal formation and functioning of blood, cells, bones and muscles. Iron plays a vital role in the formation of red blood cells; and parts of proteins such as haemoglobin and myoglobin which help in transporting oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin D helps in regulating calcium absorption and it also helps in regulating blood calcium level. Vitamin D is also required for bone and teeth formation. It is important to maintain the optimum levels of vitamin D and iron in the body in order to avoid various health diseases and disorders. The daily recommended dosage of vitamin D and iron is easily available from the food intake. Hence, planning out the diet carefully is very important.
Food High in Vitamin D and Iron
Dietary iron is available in 2 forms; i.e. heme and non-heme. Heme iron is better absorbed by the body and it is present in animal products such as fish, red meat, poultry etc. Non-heme iron is usually present in plant food such as lentils and beans. It is also found commercially as added iron in iron fortified or enriched foods.
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. Vitamin D is available in limited food products. The most common food items which provide vitamin D to the body are:
- Egg yolks
- Canned tuna
- Fatty fish such as salmon
- Fish roe (eggs, caviar)
- Mushrooms grown under UV light
- Cod liver oil
- Fortified food such as breakfast cereals, oat meals etc.
Other food items which are generally recommended for someone with low iron and vitamin D level are as follows:
Animal Protein as a Rich Source of Iron:
As mentioned earlier, animal proteins are rich in heme iron which is easily absorbed by the body. Food items such as beef, liver, chicken, pork and other red meat provide good amount of heme iron to the body. Studies have shown that women up to the age of 50 years need at least 18 milligrams of iron every day. All other adults need about 8 milligrams of iron every day. It is thus advised to increase the intake of iron-rich proteins to maintain normal iron level in the body. Among all the food items for heme iron, liver tops the list. In patients with anemia caused by iron deficiency, animal liver is the best choice of food as it provides good amount iron in addition to folate and vitamin B12. These 3 nutrients are particularly needed for overcoming iron deficient anemia naturally. 3.5 ounce or 100 gms of beef liver provides 6.5 mg of iron or 36% of the recommended iron requirement. Besides liver, other organ meats such as kidneys, brain and heart also provides good amount of iron to the body. It has been seen that grass fed beef provides higher amount of iron along with vitamin A and E and other cancer fighting antioxidants as compared with grain fed beef. A recent study has shown that women who consume red meat on a regular basis retain iron better in their system than those who took iron supplements.
Vegetables and Beans as a Source of Vitamin D and Iron:
Plant protein provides non-heme iron. It is advised to take non-heme iron with vitamin C as the absorption of non-heme iron is enhanced in the presence of vitamin C. Plant protein that are rich in heme protein includes soybeans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, black beans, navy beans, pinto beans etc. It is also recommended to include green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale on a regular basis as they boost iron intake by the body. Spinach is considered to have very good amount of iron. 3.5 ounce or 100 gms of cooked spinach provides about 3.6 mg of iron or 20 % of recommended iron intake. In addition to iron, spinach contains vitamin C which helps in absorption of the iron. It is an ideal source of iron for people who follow a vegetarian diet.
Seafood are Rich in Vitamin D and Iron:
The best source of vitamin D through diet is from seafood. Fatty fish such as swordfish, salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, sardine etc. are good source of dietary vitamin D. Other seafood such as shrimp, crab, halibut etc. are also rich in iron. It is said that an adult requires at least 600 international units of vitamin D every day. Once we cross 70 years of age, the daily requirement of vitamin D increases by 200 international units. It is thus advised to include seafood in regular diet to boost vitamin D level in the body. Sardines are particularly popular for containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D. Canned sardine are easily available in the market.
Fortified Foods Rich in Vitamin D and Iron Should be Taken:
A large number of food items are available in the markets that are fortified with specific nutrients. According to the U.S Food and Drug Administration Authority, fortified foods are group of food products with added nutrients within standard amounts and limits. Food products are easily available in the markets that are rich in iron and vitamin D. Some of these food products include breakfast cereals, bread, oat meal, packed orange juice, milk, cheese, breakfast bars, yogurt etc. The details of the nutrient value are printed on the package and labels.
Spirulina as a Major Source of Vitamin D and Iron:
Spirulina is a type of blue green algae that is very rich in iron. It is known for its strong flavour in addition to its nutrient profile. One ounce of spirulina provides about 50 percent of iron requirement. It is also rich in vitamin D and other nutrients such as amino acids, protein, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin B.
Dark Chocolate as a Source of Iron:
Besides satisfying craving for sweets and dessert, dark chocolate also provide the iron to the body. One ounce of dark chocolate provides about 20 percent of the daily iron requirement.
Dry Fruits as a Source of Vitamin D and Iron:
Dry fruits and nuts such as pistachios and raisins have high content of iron. They are ideal snacks and can be carried around for between meals hunger pangs. Other sources of iron include prunes and figs.
Shellfish being a Source of Vitamin D and Iron:
Shellfish have high amount of iron content. Other sources of iron include clams, oysters and mussels. Shellfish contains heme iron which is easily absorbed by the body. However, the iron content in clams varies based on the variety of the clam consumed. 3.5 ounce or 100 grams of shell fish provides about 28 mg of iron which makes up 155% of the recommended daily intake.
Pumpkin Seeds as a Rich Source of Vitamin D and Iron:
Pumpkin seeds are a great choice of snack as they are tasty and filled with nutrients including iron.1 ounce or 28 grams of pumpkin seeds provide about 4.2 mg of iron. This makes up about 23% of the daily recommended dosage of iron.
Quinoa is a Rich Source of Vitamin D and Iron:
Quinoa is a grain like food item which has gained popularity in the recent past due to its nutritional value. In addition to all other nutrients, this pseudo-cereal is rich in iron. One cup or 185 gms of cooked quinoa is packed with 2.8 gms of iron.
Tofu as a Rich Source of Vitamin D and Iron:
Tofu is a soy based food which is particularly popular among the Asian countries. It can be cooked and processed in multiple ways and can also be used to make salads. Half cup of tofu (126 gms) provides about 3.6 mg of iron which makes up about 19% of the daily required iron.
Iron and vitamin D are very important nutrients required by the human body. Deficiency of these nutrients can lead to multiple disorders and health issues. It is advised to follow a healthy diet and ensure that these nutrients are obtained from diet as much as possible to prevent and nutrient deficiency disorders.
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