How To Increase Iron levels In Your Blood
Anemia can occur due to a shortage of two key nutrients in our bodies: vitamin B12 (and folic acid) and/or iron. Lack of this mineral can result from several reasons: lack of absorption of nutrients due to gastrointestinal disorders, blood loss, foods low in iron, and last but not least during pregnancy – pregnant woman’s needs are higher, and anemia occurs almost naturally.
This article will discuss how to increase iron levels in your blood through nutrition and supplements, including tips of how to improve iron absorption and which supplements are better for you.
What are the symptoms of anemia?
Symptoms include fatigue, lack of concentration, headaches, irritability and insomnia. Anemia in children can cause loss of appetite and delay normal growth and development.
How much iron do we need to consume a day?
The recommended daily amount is 18 mg of iron a day for woman of reproductive age, 27 mg for pregnant women and 8 mg per day for men. Breastfeeding women can consume 9 mg a day since there is no menstruation during this period. Girls aged 14-18 need 15 mg of iron per day.
Which foods contain iron?
Food sources of iron are divided into two groups:
• Animal source – red meat of beef, turkey, internal parts (such as heart and liver) and fish.
• Vegetable source – the richest in iron are legumes, nuts and almonds, tahini, and green leafy vegetables such as parsley.
Is eating a lot of meat healthy?
40% of the iron in meat appears in the form of HEME molecule, which is the form in which the iron found in our bodies and therefore more available for absorption in our digestive system. However, meat contains cholesterol and saturated fat. Also vegetarians cannot consume iron in this form. Also, people who suffer from gastrointestinal problems, or people with chronic anemia cannot eat meat for a long period of time, as it can be difficult to digest and increases the risk of colorectal cancer in the long term.
How to improve the iron absorption?
To improve iron absorption from vegetable sources you need to consume it with vitamin C, such as in fresh vegetables. For example, you can eat lentil soup with chopped parsley and red pepper (capsicum) which are full of vitamin C. As a snack, you should choose walnuts and almonds.
What about iron supplements?
If you have anemia, after you’ve found the reason, you should consider taking iron supplements, and not just rely on nutrition. If you take dietary supplements in general, and in particular those of iron, you should consult your doctor and a dietitian, just like you do before taking medications. In general, an iron supplement can come in several forms: capsule, syrup and intravenous infusion (in cases of indigestion and lack of absorption as in certain cases of intestinal diseases, cancer, etc.).
Which supplement is better?
It’s better to choose the supplement that absorbs iron the maximum, with minimal side effects. Possible side effects of taking iron supplements are abdominal pain, diarrhea/constipation, changes in stool color and general discomfort in the abdomen. These effects are much smaller if taking liquid supplements. Iron absorption of liquid supplement is far easier for the digestive system, and therefore has less side effects. In addition, you should take supplement whose iron absorption is coordinated with the body: iron taken in excess can cause damage – iron molecule may oxidise and act like free radicals that damage DNA.
What can interfere with iron absorption?
Oxalic acid found in many green vegetables may delay the absorption of iron. For example: spinach is very rich in oxalic acid which binds to the iron and interferes with iron absorption in the intestine. Even phytic acid, which is found mostly in whole grains and soy, may interfere with iron absorption. Also drinking tea, coffee, and chocolate interfere with iron absorption too, due to the high content of polyphenols.
So the best way is to take an iron supplement along with eating a vegetable/fruit rich in vitamin C such as kiwifruit, orange, guava, strawberry, red pepper (capsicum) and apple. Berries are especially high in vitamin C, and you can find easy and nutritious berry recipes in my e-book The Healing Berry Guide. This e-book will teach you how to transform your health with berries and their amazing health benefits.
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