Incorporating more iron into your daily diet can help prevent anemia and may improve your energy level. Your body needs iron to properly form red blood cells, transport oxygen to cells, and for the growth and development of new cells. Without enough iron in your body, you may feel weak, fatigued and cold and have depressed immune function or cognitive ability. Making sure you eat iron at breakfast can help you meet your daily need for the mineral.
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Some of the best sources of iron at breakfast time are fortified, ready-to-eat cereals and hot breakfast cereals, such as oatmeal and grits. Manufacturers add iron to cereals to replace what is lost through processing. However, no minimum fortification level requirement exists for foods. As a result, cereals may contain anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the daily value for iron. Check the percent of daily value listed on the nutrition facts panel of the box to see how much iron is present in the cereal.
Eggs are another good source of iron at breakfast time. Eating two eggs provides you with 1.8 milligrams of iron, or 10 percent of the daily value. Consider scrambling the eggs or making an omelet using vegetables to boost your iron intake. Adding chopped spinach, kale or chard to your eggs increases the iron level in your breakfast. However, you'll want to vary your breakfast routine as eggs are high in cholesterol. Eating one egg per day, or 7 eggs per week, does not contribute to high cholesterol, according to Harvard School of Public Health.
Breakfast meat products made from turkey, chicken, beef and pork are good sources of iron as well. Animal proteins contain a form of iron called heme iron which is easily absorbed by your body. Adding a piece of bacon or sausage to your morning meal helps boost your intake of heme iron. However, these foods are typically high in saturated fat and calories. Use them sparingly to prevent complications such as weight gain and elevated cholesterol. You can also look for lean or reduced fat versions of these breakfast foods and drain the oil while cooking to reduce fat and calorie intake.
As with breakfast cereals, many commercially prepared bread products are fortified with iron. Adding a piece of toast to your omelet or scrambled egg breakfast helps you get more iron. Or toast a medium enriched bagel with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to get about 4 milligrams of iron, or 24 percent of the daily value. A whole-grain English muffin with an egg or light cream cheese is another way to get iron at breakfast time. Waffles and pancakes made from iron-fortified flour provide yet another way to boost your intake of the mineral.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Iron
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Eggs, Whole, Raw, Fresh
- Harvard School of Public Health: Eggs and Heart Disease
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Bagels, Plain, Enriched
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Peanut Butter, Chunk Style, Without Salt