5 Ways to Increase Iron Levels in Your Blood
To raise the iron levels in your blood, avoid certain food combinations that make it harder for your body to absorb the iron, and eat more of food combinations that make it easier.
Iron is a trace element that is essential in the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells. That’s why having correct levels of iron in your blood is vital for a healthy body.
When iron levels go down, your tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen and that can cause weakness, fatigue, and anemia. If your doctor has told you that you have an iron deficiency, check out the following tips.
1. Eat Foods Rich in Iron
To keep up good iron levels in the blood, it’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. The principal cause of low iron is poor nutrition. Since iron is a mineral, you can find it naturally in foods, both animal- and plant-based.
- Iron found in animal-based foods is the kind your body absorbs more easily. The main source is meat (especially red meat).
- Iron found in plants is absorbed slower, but it’s equally as good for you. The best options are legumes, leafy green vegetables and tree nuts.
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2. Increase Consumption of Vitamin C
In order for iron to be absorbed well, it needs to turn into ferritin. This process happens by means of the gastric juice in your body. It should contain hydrochloric acid and vitamin C. Therefore you will need to include acidic vitamin C-rich foods in your diet: lemons, oranges, broccoli, and peppers are great options.
Please note: although vitamin C is important for your immune system and iron absorption, too much of it can cause a folic acid deficiency. It’s best to consume a maximum of two citrus fruits per day.
3. Iron-Blocking Foods
Just like how there are foods that cause iron levels to increase, there are others that you should avoid.
These foods are:
- Eggs. The phosvitin that they contain prevents your body from absorbing plant-based iron.
- Milk. The calcium in dairy products inhibits iron absorption from animal and plant products when you consume more than 300mg per day.
- Tea. The oxalate in it affects the absorption of iron from plants. It’s not recommended to drink tea with foods that have a lot of iron.
- Chocolate and coffee. Their phenolic compounds inhibit iron absorption from plants.
- Nuts. The phytates that they and other seeds contain act as strong iron blockers and can reduce the absorption of iron 50-65%.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with anemia or an iron deficiency, avoid these foods as much as possible.
4. Iron Supplements
If you’re pregnant, it’s recommended that you take iron supplements to cover the energy demands of your body and that of your growing baby. Iron is important in a baby’s development.
- Depending on why your iron levels are low, consult your doctor before starting to take a supplement.
- However, supplements aren’t necessary in all cases, and not all supplements are right for everyone.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an iron deficiency and after a few months discover that you are pregnant, let your doctor know so that they take a blood test. Then they can tell you if you need to make any changes to your diet.
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5. Avoid Large Amounts of Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber has several important jobs in your body, like regulating digestion, helping reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, and protecting you from some chronic diseases, like colonic neoplasms. Although eating fiber is great for you, eating too much fiber can be counterproductive when you have low levels of iron in your blood.
- Since it’s a laxative, iron passes through your digestive system faster.
- This means that less iron is absorbed.
Salad to Increase Iron Levels
Although these tips are rather simple, maybe you don’t know where to start to raise iron levels in your blood. In this case, try this salad and have fun making modifications to it.
- Steak or other red meat (150 g)
- 1 cup of raw arugula, rinsed (100 g)
- 1 cup of raw baby spinach, rinsed (100 g)
- Sectioned grapefruit, without peel or seeds
- Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- Season the steak or other red meat and grill it.
- Cut the grilled meat in bite size pieces.
- In a bowl, combine the meat, vegetables, and the grapefruit.
- Season with a little bit of salt and freshly ground pepper and eat it right away.
Do you know another recipe that’s good for boosting iron? How do you think you’re doing on your iron intake?