Healthy Nutrition Facts on Beef
The following vitamins and minerals are abundant in beef:
Vitamin B12. Animal-derived foods, such as meat, are the only good dietary sources of vitamin B12, an essential nutrient that is important for blood formation and your brain and nervous system.
Zinc. Beef is very rich in zinc, a mineral that is important for body growth and maintenance.
Selenium. Meat is generally a rich source of selenium, an essential trace element that serves a variety of functions in your body (12Trusted Source).
Iron. Found in high amounts in beef, meat iron is mostly in the heme form, which is absorbed very efficiently (13Trusted Source).
Niacin. One of the B vitamins, niacin (vitamin B3) has various important functions in your body. Low niacin intake has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease (14Trusted Source).
Vitamin B6. A family of B vitamins, vitamin B6 is important for blood formation and energy metabolism.
Phosphorus. Widely found in foods, phosphorus intake is generally high in the Western diet. It’s essential for body growth and maintenance.
Beef contains many other vitamins and minerals in lower amounts.
SUMMARY - Meat is an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, iron, niacin, and vitamin B6.
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Beef is a rich source of high-quality protein and various vitamins and minerals. As such, it can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.
Maintaining muscle mass
Like all types of meat, beef is an excellent source of high-quality protein.
It contains all of the essential amino acids and is referred to as a complete protein.
Many people — especially older adults — don’t consume enough high-quality protein.
Inadequate protein intake may accelerate age-related muscle wasting, increasing your risk of an adverse condition known as sarcopenia (23Trusted Source).
Sarcopenia is a serious health issue among older adults but can be prevented or reversed with strength exercises and increased protein intake.
The best dietary sources of protein are animal-derived foods, such as meat, fish, and milk products.
In the context of a healthy lifestyle, regular consumption of beef — or other sources of high-quality protein — may help preserve muscle mass, reducing your risk of sarcopenia.
Improved exercise performance
Carnosine is a compound important for muscle function (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
It’s formed in your body from beta-alanine, a dietary amino acid found in high amounts in fish and meat — including beef.
Supplementing with high doses of beta-alanine for 4–10 weeks has been shown to lead to a 40–80% increase in carnosine levels in muscles (26Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
In contrast, following a strict vegetarian diet may lead to lower levels of carnosine in muscles over time (29Trusted Source).
In human muscles, high levels of carnosine have been linked to reduced fatigue and improved performance during exercise (26Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).
Additionally, controlled studies suggest that beta-alanine supplements can improve running time and strength (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
Anemia is a common condition, characterized by a decreased number of red blood cells and reduced ability of the blood to carry oxygen.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anemia. The main symptoms are tiredness and weakness.
Beef is a rich source of iron — mainly in the form of heme iron.
Only found in animal-derived foods, heme iron is often very low in vegetarian — and especially vegan — diets (35).
Your body absorbs heme iron much more efficiently than non-heme iron — the type of iron in plant-derived foods (13Trusted Source).
Thus, meat not only contains a highly bioavailable form of iron but also improves the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods — a mechanism that has not been fully explained and is referred to as the “meat factor.”
A few studies indicate that meat can increase the absorption of non-heme iron even in meals that contain phytic acid, an inhibitor of iron absorption (36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source).
Another study found that meat supplements were more effective than iron tablets at maintaining iron status in women during a period of exercise (39Trusted Source).
Therefore, eating meat is one of the best ways to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
SUMMARY - Rich in high-quality protein, beef may help maintain and grow muscle mass. Its beta-alanine content may reduce fatigue and improve exercise performance. Plus, beef may prevent iron deficiency anemia.
The Bottom Line
Beef is one of the most popular types of meat.
It’s exceptionally rich in high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Therefore, it may improve muscle growth and maintenance, as well as exercise performance. As a rich source of iron, it may also cut your risk of anemia.