Pumpkin seeds are the richest seeds in iron and one of the best dietary sources of iron in general. They can help us meet our daily needs. A serving provides about 13% of the recommended daily intake. However, we have to eat many foods with iron, as we absorb only a small percentage of iron of pumpkin seeds.
How much iron do we need a day?
Adult men and women older than 51 years require only 8 mg of iron a day.
The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg for women of reproductive age, and 27 mg for pregnant women. As women require high dosages of iron, they may have a hard time meet their daily needs from food. They may benefit from taking a dietary supplement. You can find a wide variety of iron supplements on iHerb.
Iron is essential for health. It’s involved in energy metabolism, cellular functioning, physical growth, neurological development, and the synthesis of some hormones, amino acids, and collagen.[1,2]
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, though! It may lead to serious adverse effects, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired cognition, weakened immune function, fatigue, and low body temperature. Moreover, iron deficiency during pregnancy may increase the risk of premature delivery, and miscarriage.
What’s the iron content of pumpkin seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are among the richest common plant-based foods in iron! They have approximately 8.1 g of iron per 100g. A handful of pumpkin seeds provides about 2.3 g of iron. This amount is almost 13% of the Daily Value (DV)!
Hence, the regular consumption of pumpkin seeds can help us meet our daily needs of iron.
Do pumpkin seeds have more iron than other common seeds?
In fact, pumpkin seeds are the richest common seeds in iron. Hemp and chia seeds are also particularly rich in iron. Sesame, sunflower, and flax seeds are great dietary sources of iron as well.
Furthermore, you can boost your iron intake by eating nuts. Cashews, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and almonds are the richest common nuts in iron.
Do we absorb the iron of pumpkin seeds?
As a rule of thumb, vegans, vegetarians, or people who follow a plant-based diet should consume more iron! It’s estimated that people who don’t eat meet need 1.8 times more iron than meet eaters. Iron in plant-based foods is less bioavailable than iron in animal-derived foods.
The bioavailability of iron from mixed diets containing both animal-based and plant-based foods is up to 18%. In contrast, the bioavailability of iron from plant-based sources is between 5% and 12%.
Animal-derived foods, like meat, poultry, and seafood, enhance iron absorption.
Iron in pumpkin seeds has a low bioavailability. They contain compounds, like polyphenols, that inhibit its absorption. The coat of pumpkin seeds, as well all seeds, and nuts, is the richest part in these compounds.
But, soaking seeds, nuts, and beans significantly increases their iron absorption rates! The germination of seeds, nuts, and beans increases the bioavailability of minerals, like iron.
In addition, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron. Therefore, we should eat foods high in vitamin C with foods high in iron. Kale or spinach are great sources of both vitamin C and iron!
On the other hand, too much calcium may reduce the absorption of iron. Thus, better avoid consuming too much milk and dairy with foods high in iron.
In any case, healthy people, who follow a well-balanced diet, probably get more than enough iron from food.
Common foods high in iron
Common foods high in iron are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains (e.g. whole wheat bread, rice), legumes, beans, potatoes, chocolate, and many fruits (e.g. raisins, prunes, dates), and vegetables. In fact, 1 large egg, a serving of tuna, or a serving of chicken have the same amount of iron as 1/2 handful of pumpkin seeds!
Above all, eat beans to boost your daily intake of iron. Beans are among the richest dietary sources of iron. They can help us meet our daily needs. For instance, a serving of green peas, soy, lentils, and chickpeas provides between 25 and 50% of DV!
Furthermore, you could consume fortified foods to skyrocket your iron intake. For instance, many cereal are enriched with iron.
Always consult your health care provider before taking a dietary supplement or changing your diet.