There's no doubt about it – broccoli and cauliflower are highly nutritious additions to your diet. The two cruciferous vegetables are low in fat and calories and supply a good amount of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K. The vegetables aren't usually associated with iron, however, but they do deliver a small dose of this essential mineral.
Broccoli and Iron
A 1-cup serving of raw broccoli supplies 0.66 milligram of iron. That translates to about one-third of the 18 milligrams moms under the age of 50 need on a daily basis. It's 8 percent of the 8 milligrams moms over the age of 50 should have each day. It's only 2 percent of the 27 milligrams of iron you need each day if you're pregnant. If you're a breastfeeding mom, that cup of raw broccoli is 7 percent of the 9 milligrams of iron you need each day. A cup of cooked broccoli contains more iron, with 1.04 milligrams. Have a side of steamed broccoli or add the raw version to salad and coleslaw to include the vegetable in your diet.
Cauliflower and Iron
One cup of raw cauliflower contains less iron than raw broccoli with 0.45 milligram. Unlike broccoli, cooked cauliflower contains less iron than the raw version. A cup of boiled cauliflower supplies 0.4 milligram of iron. Raw cauliflower pairs well with a tossed green salad or pasta salad. Puree cooked cauliflower with low-fat milk and fresh herbs for a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes.
Functions of Iron and Deficiency
Iron is present in all the cells of your body and is responsible for a number of different functions. It resides in red blood cells and helps your lungs transport oxygen to the other parts of your body. Iron is present in the enzymes that help you digest your food, as well. An iron deficiency can cause anemia, which can lead to tiredness, fatigue and the inability to do physical work. Anemia in pregnant women can cause low birth weight weight babies or babies that are born prematurely. An iron deficiency can also cause mental delays in babies and memory problems in teenagers.
Iron Recommendations for Children
The amount of iron your child needs depends on his age. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 require 7 milligrams of iron each day, and children between the ages of 4 and 8 need 10 milligrams a day. Between the ages of 9 and 13, children need 8 milligrams of iron on a daily basis. Teen boys require 11 milligrams a day and teen girls should have 15 milligrams. There isn't a recommended amount of iron for babies under age 1, but breastfeeding or giving your baby iron-fortified formula will ensure that he's getting enough. If your baby was born prematurely, talk to his pediatrician about how much iron he should be getting because babies born too early are at a higher risk for iron deficiency.