My doctor informed me today that I’m low in iron… which can lead to lack of energy among other things. So how do I go about increase my iron levels without living on steak, spinach and Guinness?
We need iron to produce haemoglobin in our blood, which is what carries oxygen around our body (so kind of important) Our immune system also needs iron in order to work well, which is why when you’re lacking in iron you can feel tired, worn out and poorly. I’ve been prescribed iron supplements, but being told I’m low in iron highlighted that I should eat better. So I’ve researched some tips and tricks which should hopefully help me along. There are two types of iron in food… which is something I didn’t know. There’s haem and non-haem iron. Haem iron is only found in meat, chicken and fish, and is easily absorbed by the body. Non-haem iron is found in plant foods, such as vegetables, cereals , beans and lentils, but is not so easily absorbed by the body ( Information obtained from the Nutrition Foundation )
- Eat lean red meat, which is a good source of haem iron, 3-4 times a week. Red meat is a great source of easy to absorb iron and it isn’t hard to prepare or work into your diet.
- Vitamin C helps our body to absorb iron, specifically non-haem iron. Match your iron rich food with vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, green peppers or potatoes which are all good sources of vitamin C and wash down iron supplements (and non-haem iron sources) with a tall glass of orange or include vitamin C supplements as apart of your regime. Vitamin C will help with the absorption of iron from non-haem foods like cereal, porridge, boiled spinach and chick peas.
- Juicing can help add fruit and veggies to your diet if you’re not typically fond of them – however juicing isn’t a replacement for actually eating the fruit and veggies…. you’re not getting away with it that easily.
- Combining haem foods with non-haem foods also increases the absorption of iron. For example, adding lean meat to a salad sandwich increases the amount of iron absorbed from the bread and salad.
- Apparently tannin in tea and coffee can reduce the amount of iron absorbed by the body. Drink tea and coffee between meals rather than with meals or wait at least ½ -1 hour after eating. (Coffee does contain less tannin than tea but apparently has other compounds that reduce iron absorption).