According to the World Health Organization (WHO) iron deficiency is the most common nutrient disorder in the world [Source: World Health Organization].
In the U.S. alone roughly 10 percent of young girls and women are iron deficient [Source: CDC]. This issue is particularly challenging for pregnant women, women in their child bearing years (due to menstruation), the elderly, and vegetarians and vegans.
Not getting enough iron may cause unwanted side effects, and somtimes simply eating iron-rich foods isn't enough. There are two types of iron, heme and nonheme. Heme is found in meats, and is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than nonheme, which is found in plants. So even if you load up on spinach, a good source of of iron, your body may not absorb it in the amounts you need.
Luckily, cooking with a cast iron skillet fortifies your foods with iron and reduces your likelihood of developing anemia, a disorder associated with iron deficiency and symptoms of tiredness, fatigue, loss of concentration and poor work performance.
The recommended daily value of iron is 18 mg, or the equivalent of three ounces of chicken liver, one cup of black eye peas, and one-half cup of boiled spinach. Sounds delicious, right? Instead, try making tomato sauce in your cast iron skillet. A Brazilian study found that pans released more iron when cooking tomato sauce than other items. The vitamin C in the tomatoes may help your body soak up the nonheme iron from the pan, because the iron-vitamin C combination maximizes your body's ability to absorb both nutrients.
Another bonus: You don't need as much oil. Cast iron is a nonstick pan, so you don't need tons of olive oil to get crispy, perfectly cooked vegetables and meats.