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Iron plays an essential role in the human body. It forms hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells, as iron binds to oxygen and provides it to tissues for their metabolic needs. Iron also a key component of various enzymes that are active in cellular oxidation reactions. It helps maintain brain function, endocrine, and immune functions. Iron is especially important for pregnant women, who are recommended to increase their iron intake by an extra 10-20 milligrams per day. The growing fetus requires iron from the mother to build up its own reserve. A pregnant woman who does not eat enough iron-rich foods risks anemia—a condition in which blood lacks the proper amount of red blood cells.

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1. Red meat and organ meat

Don't risk becoming anemic! Get enough iron in your daily diet with these iron-rich foods.

Red meat is an excellent source of iron. A 3-ounce serving of skirt steak, fat trimmed, provides 2.5 milligrams (mg) of iron, which is 13% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). Even better than regular red meat? Try grass-fed beef instead. Grass-fed beef contains more of those healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef, and a lot less total fat. Grass-fed beef also contains beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), more vitamin E, and more potassium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus than grain-fed beef. Popular types of organ meats include liver and kidneys. A 3.5-ounce serving of beef liver contains 6.5 mg of iron (36% of your RDI).

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.