Even though everyone is at risk for iron-deficiency anemia, the following groups are at the greatest risk:
Women during their childbearing years
Pregnant and breastfeeding women
What are the most common symptoms of iron deficiency?
Decreased brain function - dizziness and difficulty concentrating
Pale skin and fingernails
Note: These symptoms are also common for other health issues. It is essential to confirm iron deficiency anemia through diagnosis by a blood test through your healthcare provider.
Two quick and easy tips to increase your iron intake
1. Focus on eating both animal and plant iron sources.
Some of the best animal sources of iron are:
Turkey - dark meat
Chicken - dark meat
Mollusks: clams, cuttlefish, octopus, oysters, and mussels
Some of the best plant sources of iron are:
Beans - pinto, lentils, soybeans, and kidney beans
Dark green leafy vegetables - spinach, kale, and Swiss chard
Fortified and enriched breakfast cereals
Whole grains and enriched grains - bread, rice, quinoa, and couscous
2. Eat iron-rich foods and vitamin C-rich foods together.
Your body absorbs the iron from animal sources 2 to 3 times better than from plant sources. However, you can increase iron absorption from plant sources in two ways. If you eat meat, fish, or poultry in the same meal as plant sources of iron, the percentage of iron absorbed from the plant source increases. Also, if you eat or drink a vitamin C-rich food at the same meal, you can increase the iron absorption from the plant source.
Choose breakfast cereals that are fortified or enriched with iron. Add berries to your cereal at breakfast. The berries help increase the percentage of iron that is absorbed from the grains in the breakfast cereal.
For a snack, try a piece of beef or turkey jerky and dried apricots or figs.
Add tomato products to lean beef in dishes. The vitamin C in the tomatoes helps increase the amount of iron that is absorbed from the beef.
Choose a spinach salad with dried cranberries instead of a lettuce salad to boost your iron intake.
For a snack, add dried fruit and nuts to your favorite muffin recipe. The vitamin C in the dried fruit will help increase the iron absorption from the flour.
Add cooked beans or lentils to stews, soups, and casseroles. The amount of iron absorbed from the beans will increase with the addition of a tomato product and meat.
Oven-roasted kale is a delicious iron-rich side dish.
These tips can both help prevent and treat iron-deficiency anemia.