Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Iron continued

After two days as an omnivore, I can officially say: BLECH. I've calmed down and decided to re-evaluate my diet for what seems like the umpteenth time this year. I realized that there are number of places where I can easily double or triple my iron intake without relying on meat. For reference, the recommended daily allowance is 18 mg. And yes I eat the same exact meals 5-7 days a week.

Breakfast A quick glance through my breakfast cereals revealed that different brands in my cupboard vary between 1 and 9 mg per serving. Other brands like Grape Nuts or Total go up to 16 to 18 mg per serving. One tablespoon of molasses in morning coffee is another 7 mg, although iron is not well absorbed when taken with coffee or calcium.

Lunch I switched to protein and iron fortified pasta years ago, so that earns me a healthy 4.6 mg. I started adding beans to my pasta last month, but the 'serving size' of 1 cup is too much for lunch. However, grains like amaranth and quinoa are loaded with iron in much smaller serving sizes and can easily be boiled along with (or replace) pasta.

Dinner Man I wish my burritos were more nutritious. But eating veggies, beans, rice and/or tofu wrapped in a tortilla gives me tons of fiber and fills me up before I've consumed enough food. I discovered today that I can throw the same veggies into my favorite Indian lentil soup -- sambar -- for 7 mg of iron. It turns out that the Indian diet I grew up on was amazingly high in iron so perhaps it's time to go back to my roots.

On a related note, I got more test results today and more not-so-good news. My ferritin level (a measure of stored iron) is 5 ng/mL (normal is 10-291). Watch what you eat, people in cyber world!

For a list of vegetarian iron sources, see here.
For a discussion of iron for triathletes, see here.


  1. Nooo, you need to stay a hypocrite... er, omnivore... until I see you again!

  2. I think I'll eat meat occasionally if I'm craving it or working out extra hard. Go for a long run with me and maybe I'll have a burger afterward.