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Do you frequently feel tired, weak, or short of breath? Are you cold often, including cold hands and feet? Do you have regular headaches? If so, you may have iron-deficiency anemia. Self-diagnosis isn’t recommended, so we encourage you to see your doctor for lab testing. In the meantime, here are a few nutrition tips to help support healthy iron in the blood.
In this video, Amanda Haney will teach you about iron deficiency anemia, including what it is and how you can improve it by consuming foods high in iron.
Continue reading for more information.
What is iron deficiency anemia?
Anemia occurs when you have a low level of hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. Iron deficiency anemia is the most common form of anemia and is a result of low blood iron.
Eat high iron foods
Iron is a mineral found in food. There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Your body is able to absorb heme iron better than non-heme iron.
Heme iron comes from meat products including chicken, chicken liver, beef, beef liver, pork, and seafood.
On the other hand, non-heme iron comes from plant food sources including spinach, beans and lentils, fortified breakfast cereals, baked potato (with the skin), prunes, and nuts (especially cashews and almonds).
Don’t forget the Vitamin C
Pairing iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods helps enhance the absorption of iron. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits, kiwi, pineapple, mango, broccoli, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, and tomatoes.
Personally, one of my favorite iron-rich meals is spaghetti with meat sauce. The vitamin C from the marinara sauce helps the body absorb the iron from the meat. Another option is to create a spinach salad with red peppers and a lemon-oil dressing.
Find the duo of iron and Vitamin C that work best for you!
Foods to avoid
Finally, limit foods that inhibit iron absorption. Examples include coffee, tea, dairy products, and foods high in phytates. Phytates are compounds located in the outer layer of nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains. You can reduce phytates in these foods by soaking or sprouting grains and legumes 24-hours before cooking.
People at risk of iron deficiency anemia
Lastly, certain people have a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia, these people include infants and children, pregnant women, women of childbearing age, vegetarians and vegans, and those with intestinal conditions like Chron’s disease or gastrointestinal surgeries. These specific conditions may require additional iron supplements. Work closely with your registered dietitian and your doctor to determine if supplements are necessary for you.
Whether you have been diagnosed, or know you may be at risk, these changes can help prevent iron deficiency anemia. Meet with your registered dietitian today to begin increasing the iron from your meals!
What foods or supplements do you consume to treat iron deficiency anemia? Share your insight in the comments below!