Eisenmangel bei Frauen - Das sind die besten Lebensmittel

Iron deficiency in women - These are the best foods

  • Why is iron so important?
  • Causes of iron deficiency
  • Chronic blood loss due to periods
  • Iron deficiency in inflammatory bowel disease
  • Insufficient iron intake through diet
  • Daily Iron Requirements for Women
  • Not all iron is the same
  • How are iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia diagnosed?
  • Proper nutrition for iron deficiency

Iron is one of the trace elements, as it is only needed by the body in very low concentrations. Nevertheless, there are 2.5 - 4.5 grams of the heavy metal in the body of a healthy, adult person. For comparison, a 20-cent coin weighs 5.7 grams, making it only slightly heavier than the iron stores in your body.

Iron deficiency is a global health problem and the most common deficiency symptom. It is believed that up to two billion people suffer from an iron deficiency, in Germany it is 8% of the population. Women of childbearing age are disproportionately affected: one in five women in Germany suffers from an undersupply of this important trace element.

So it's no wonder that millions of women search online for the best foods for iron deficiency. The phrase "best foods for iron?" yields over 3 million results on Google. What is surprising, however, is the search result. This is because the search engine only mentions plant-based sources of iron, but omits the actual best foods with the highest iron content, such as duck liver or black pudding.

There's enough iron in duck, pork, and beef liver to effortlessly make it to the top of the list. In addition, the trace element from animal sources is absorbed much better by the body than iron from plant sources.

In contrast to Google and Co., we want to take a closer look at the topic of iron deficiency without hiding facts in order to serve a political agenda. Even though the trend towards meatless diets is unstoppable, we believe that one's own health is a priority. In the following, Carnivoro explains the role of iron in our body, causes and symptoms of iron deficiency and which foods are particularly suitable to prevent it.

Why is iron so important?

Iron is a vital trace element and an important component of the red blood pigment haemoglobin. This iron-rich protein complex makes up 90% of our red blood cells and gives them their typical red color. Since oxygen and carbon dioxide are poorly soluble in water, hemoglobin binds oxygen in the lungs and transports it via the bloodstream to the cells in the tissue. There, carbon dioxide is absorbed and returned to the lungs through the red blood cells, where CO2 is exhaled. Since red blood cells have an average lifespan of 100 days, our body must constantly reproduce blood with the help of iron. If the heavy metal is missing, oxygen transport is restricted.

Iron also plays a key role in energy metabolism. This is because our cells need the trace element to produce ATP (our body's main source of energy) in the mitochondria. Perhaps you still remember with horror the respiratory chain from biology class. Without iron, these complex energy production reactions cannot take place. If the iron store is not sufficiently filled, ATP production suffers. Less energy is available to the body. Tiredness, exhaustion and exhaustion can be the result.

The immune system also needs iron to function properly. Immune cells can only be produced and activated if there is enough iron in the body. An iron deficiency weakens the immune system and makes the body more susceptible to infections. For example, a team of researchers from the German Cancer Institute in Heidelberg was able to show in experiments with mice that an iron deficiency also inhibits the production of so-called neutrophils, which make up almost two-thirds of our white blood cells.

Already in the womb, an adequate supply of iron to the embryo is vital. This is because iron is significantly involved in brain maturation. Our brain needs the trace element for optimal development. Especially in the first 3 years of life, iron deficiency anemia can impair the acquisition of cognitive abilities. But even in adulthood, an iron deficiency can limit mental performance. If our brain does not get enough iron, it often leads to a lack of concentration or forgetfulness.

Causes of iron deficiency

If more iron is consumed over a longer period of time than is absorbed by the body, this is referred to as iron deficiency. The iron stores in the body must be opened, as there is not enough supply through food. Although the body's iron stores are not completely filled in the case of an iron deficiency, the HB value (hemoglobin content of red blood cells) remains inconspicuous. Just a glance at the ferritin value reveals how the iron store is doing.

Chronic blood loss due to periods

In Germany, chronic blood loss is the most common reason for iron deficiency. Iron deficiency anaemia is only spoken of when the hemoglobin concentration in the blood is below the sexual or sexual or gender levels. age-specific benchmark. For young women, this drop is mainly due to the monthly period. 15% of all women tend to have heavy menstrual bleeding and are therefore particularly at risk. Furthermore, fibroids, i.e. growths in the uterus, and tumors can lead to blood loss. Less commonly, the excretion of hemoglobin in the urine is due to hemolysis (breakdown of the blood) as a symptom of infectious diseases such as malaria or yellow fever.

Iron deficiency in inflammatory bowel disease

For postmenopausal women, bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract is the main cause of iron deficiency. People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis are particularly frequently affected: it is estimated that60-80% of all IBD patients suffer from an iron deficiency, up to 50% suffer from anemia. For women with IBD, the proportion is likely to be even higher. However, gastrointestinal ulcers, inflammation of the gastric mucosa or hemorrhoids can also lead to permanent blood loss.

Insufficient iron intake through diet

Iron deficiency can also be caused by one-sided meatless eating habits. Vegans and vegetarians, young children, people with eating disorders or severe alcohol dependence are particularly at risk. The mixed consumption of particularly iron-rich foods with coffee, tea, red wine, dairy products, cola or spinach should also be avoided, as the iron robbers contained in them inhibit the absorption of the trace element. Caffeine, tannins, calcium salts, foods containing phosphate and oxalic acid should be avoided if iron deficiency already exists.

Daily Iron Requirements for Women

According to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), women of childbearing age should consume 15 mg of iron through food, while pregnant women should consume 30 mg. If breastfeeding, the daily iron requirement is 20 mg. Women with regular menstruation lose up to 3 mg of iron per day, after menopause it is approx. 1 mg daily.

Excess iron is stored in the liver and spleen and bound to the protein ferritin. If not enough iron is supplied through food or dietary supplements, the iron requirement must be covered by the iron store.

Especially in women who disproportionately abstain from meat, the daily loss of iron can often not be compensated for by diet. Even though meat-free sources of iron, such as legumes or oatmeal, are rich in iron, iron from plant sources is very poorly absorbed by the body.

Not all iron is the same

How easily iron can be absorbed by the body depends on the oxidation state of the heavy metal. Divalent iron (Fe2+) is mainly found in animal foods such as meat, fish, offal and poultry and is also known as heme iron. It has a bioavailability of 15-35%. This means that, on average, a quarter of animal iron can be absorbed by our small intestine. In the case of trivalent iron (Fe3+, also known as non-heme iron), which is found in plants, the absorption rate is 3-8%.

When it comes to the actual absorption of iron by our body, no plant food can hold a candle to the liver. Even though oatmeal, legumes and leafy greens are regularly in the best lists of health blogs and women's magazines, most plant-based sources of iron only play in the second league due to their significantly poorer bioavailability.

How are iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia diagnosed?

Not all iron deficiencies are the same. If too little iron is absorbed through food over a longer period of time to compensate for the daily iron loss, the first iron deficiency symptoms occur. How advanced an iron deficiency is can only be clarified by going to the doctor. A blood test provides information about

  • Hemoglobin content of red blood cells (Hb value)
  • Level of iron storage (serum ferritin value)
  • Iron saturation of iron transport proteins in the blood serum (transferrin saturation)

If the Hb value and transferrin saturation are within the normal range with a low serum ferritin value (<30 μg/l), we speak of alatent Eisenmangel. Since the storage iron has been broken, but the body's iron requirements can still be covered by the iron storage, the latent iron deficiency often goes unnoticed at first or is accompanied by non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, concentration disorders, headaches or susceptibility to infections. In the case of latent iron deficiency, anemia is not yet present.

In the case of prolonged iron deficiency, iron stores are depleted, so that there is not enough iron available for the formation of new red blood cells. Due to the lack of iron, the hemoglobin content of red blood cells decreases. The Hb value falls below the normal value in women of 12-16 g/dl. The blood count shows that the number and size of red blood cells decreases due to the lack of blood pigments. A decrease in transferrin saturation in blood serum shows that fewer transport proteins are loaded with iron. It is only now that it is possible to speak of aEisenmangelanämie(also manifest iron deficiency).

The non-specific signs of latent iron deficiency are then joined by indicative symptoms such as brittle nails, sore tongue or corners of the mouth, ringing in the ears, hair loss or difficulty swallowing. If there is a suspicion of iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia, this should be clarified promptly by a blood test at the family doctor.

Proper nutrition for iron deficiency

Since women have an increased risk of iron deficiency due to periods and pregnancy, an iron-rich diet is particularly important to prevent iron deficiency.

What to eat if you are iron deficient?

Wheat bran (16mg/100g), pumpkin seeds (12.5mg/100g) or soybeans (9mg/100g) regularly top the lists of the most iron-rich foods. What is concealed is that duck liver contains 30mg/100g, almost twice as much iron as the best plant-based alternative. Pork and veal liver also contain considerable amounts of the vital trace element. If you take into account the poor bioavailability of non-heme iron sources, then no plant-based food would make it into the top 10.

Nährwerte Eisen Leber - Was essen bei Eisenmangel

If we assume an average bioavailability of 5%, you would have to eat 125g of wheat bran for your small intestine to absorb 1mg of iron. A ca. To meet 50% of your daily iron needs with the best plant-based source of iron, you would need to eat a whole kilogram of wheat bran.

If you like the taste of duck liver, 130g is enough to cover half of the recommended daily dose. If you can't get used to the taste of liver, it's better to use freeze-dried beef liver capsules. These are odourless and tasteless and are ideal as an additional source of iron with meals.

How much iron is supplied to the body therefore plays only a subordinate role. The decisive factor is how much of the iron supplied the body can actually absorb.

Iron content per 100g in mg

Eisenresorption* pro 100g in mg

Duck liver



Black pudding



Pork liver






Beef liver









Wheat bran



The Carbians






* Estimated iron absorption taking into account the differences in bioavailability between Fe2+ and Fe3+

In contrast to other online publications, however, we do not want to hide the fact that vitamin C can increase the iron absorption of non-heme iron. For example, even small amounts of vitamin C are often enough to improve iron absorption from plant sources.

Unfortunately, many plant-based foods contain antinutrients that can inhibit the absorption of the trace element when consumed in combination with iron-containing foods. Tannins, phytic acid, oxalic acid and phosphates, which are mainly found in coffee, black tea, red wine, cola, spinach, dark chocolate or cereal products, are particularly problematic. The calcium found in dairy products can also reduce the absorption of iron. On the other hand, the absorption of heme iron is hardly affected by antinutrients.

It's better to be safe than sorry

Even though iron deficiency is a rather rare deficiency symptom in our latitudes, women are disproportionately affected by iron deficiency. This often develops gradually, so that a latent iron deficiency goes unnoticed for a long time. Going to the doctor often only takes place when the iron stores are already exhausted. Due to the unbroken trend towards a meatless diet, more and more women are avoiding the best sources of iron such as liver and red meat. We hope that our article will help you to detect iron deficiency at an early stage or to prevent it through an appropriate diet.


This article is for informational purposes only. The text does not claim to be complete, nor can the topicality, correctness and balance of the information provided be guaranteed. The text is in no way a substitute for the professional advice of a doctor or pharmacist and it must not be used as a basis for independent diagnosis and the initiation, modification or termination of treatment of diseases. If you have any health questions or complaints, always consult your trusted doctor!
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