Iron is a trace mineral found in every cell of the body. It is essential for carrying oxygen from the lungs to tissues in the body and for transporting and storing oxygen for muscles. There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Heme is found in animal food sources, while nonheme is derived from plants. Most bodily iron is found in the proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin.
Heme iron, found in red meats, fish and poultry, is more easily absorbed by the body than the non-heme iron found in plants. The absorption of non-heme iron increases when eaten alongside meat, poultry, or fish. Consuming iron-rich foods with foods high in Vitamin C can more than double the amount of iron absorbed by the body.
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