We all know why iron is a must-have. It keeps our muscles strong, our blood healthy, helps oxygen circulation, improves cognitive function, boosts immunity, and treats fatigue and anaemia.
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Health recommends specific amounts of iron in our diet every day but it can be a bit of a challenge to get as much iron as we need. Here’s what a nutritionist wants you to know:
The right food is key
Red meat, poultry and fish (particularly tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardine) contain the most easily absorbed form of dietary iron - called heme iron. Your body absorbs heme iron more easily than the iron found in plant-based foods. While eggs, nuts, pulses and green leafy vegetables like Gotukola, Saarana, Murunga, Kathurumurunga, and Thampala are rich in iron, you will need to eat a considerably large quantity of them to get the iron you need if you have little or no meat in your diet.
Some food helps us absorb iron better than others
Certain food can help your body absorb iron better. Yes, even non-heme iron! Eating food rich in vitamin C, like melons, citrus fruits and bell peppers, helps your body store non-heme iron in a form that is more easily absorbed.
Little tricks in the kitchen can also help your body absorb iron from food more easily. Making hoppers or dosai? Ferment the flour mixture overnight. Eating chickpeas? Soak them for 24 hours before boiling. Not everything requires preparation in advance however. Simply adding tomato, lime or tamarind to your food while cooking will do the job just as well.
If you need a little extra help, iron-fortified food can come to the rescue
If you still don’t think you’re getting enough iron from your food, you can turn to iron-fortified products. Easily accessible at any supermarket or store, food and drink fortified with iron can help provide a significant portion of the iron you need on a daily basis. Nestlé’s products for example, like Milo powder, Maggi Rasa Musu, Nespray Everyday, Nespray 1+, Ceregrow, Nangrow and Lactogrow, are all fortified with iron and a number of other vitamins and minerals.
Keep in mind though that just as much as the body is slow to absorb iron, it is also slow to excrete it. Too much iron can cause complications so always remember that a healthy and balanced diet is key. For more information about iron in your diet, visit www.nestle.lk, www.facebook.com/nestlelanka or call 0114 724 724.
Source: Professor Anoma Chandrasekara, Department of Applied Nutrition, Wayamba University , Sri Lanka
Sponsored by: Nestlé, Towards an Iron-Clad Nation: Nestlé has launched an island-wide campaign to create awareness amongst families about the importance of iron in the diet. It will support the government’s strategy for preventing and controlling micronutrient deficiencies in Sri Lanka. The campaign, called ‘Towards an Iron-Clad Nation’, is part of the company’s global 'Nestlé for Healthier Kids' (N4HK) initiative. N4HK aims at helping 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030 by offering healthier products and advice for families on nutrition and exercise. In 2017, Nestlé Lanka provided 405 million servings of food and beverages enriched with micronutrients like iron, vitamin A, zinc and calcium, which are often lacking in local diets. This included over 250 million servings of iron-enriched products.