My doctor told me that I needed to increase my intake of iron. What foods should I eat?

Iron can help your red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. Iron can also help enhance your immune system, aid in cognitive development, and improve energy levels. If someone is iron deficient, she may feel fatigued, shaky, weak and irritable. It is generally good to see your doctor if you are experiencing those symptoms, and he may investigate into the possibility of iron deficiency anemia.

There are two types of iron: heme and nonheme. The heme sources come from animal tissues, and they are readily absorbed. Best sources of heme iron include liver, fish, lean meat, and poultry. Nonheme iron is mainly provided from plant sources and is not as easily absorbed. A few sources of nonheme iron include beans, eggs, and fortified foods like cereal, bread, and juice (fortified foods generally contain approximately 25-30% of the recommended daily allowance or RDA for iron). The RDA is based on your age and sex. Your doctor can help you to determine just how much iron you need per day.

To get enough iron it is helpful to choose three or more foods that are good sources of iron. Examples include iron-fortified oatmeal/juice, raisins, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, poultry and fish, kidney or lima beans, clams, tofu/soybeans, dates/prunes, shrimp or sardines, lean ground beef, and refried beans. If you are a vegetarian, it is important that you focus on the nonheme sources of iron. Combine nonheme sources with foods rich in vitamin C to enhance absorption. For example, add strawberries to your enriched cooled pasta for a fruity pasta salad. Have a glass of orange juice with your oatmeal or make a broccoli salad with sunflower seeds. Keep in mind that there are some foods that inhibit the absorption of iron. Avoid red wine, coffee and tea while eating iron rich foods.

Login to Favorite