Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

My bloodwork showed that I had low iron. Which foods can help?

Thanks for your question! Many women have trouble with low iron levels or anemia and what we eat can help us bring that lab value back into the normal range. When your body doesn’t get the amount of iron it needs, you will likely develop iron deficiency anemia. Anemia can leave you feeling weak, dizzy, or irritable and have a headache or shortness of breath.

Let’s explore iron a little bit. Iron is an important mineral that we all need. It carries oxygen in our blood as part of hemoglobin and helps our muscles store and use oxygen. Iron also helps enzymes in our body function which are involved in numerous reactions including food digestion.

Food sources of iron include the following:

  • liver
  • red meat
  • dried fruit including raisins, dried apricots and prunes
  • dried beans
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • iron fortified cereals
  • eggs especially the yolk
  • dark-green leafy vegetables

How much do we need?

Children

   1 to 3 years: 7 mg/day

   4 to 8 years: 10 mg/day

Males

   9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day

   14 to 18 years: 11 mg/day

   Age 19 and older: 8 mg/day

Females

   9 to 13 years: 8 mg/day

   14 to 18 years: 15 mg/day

   19 to 50 years: 18 mg/day

   51 and older: 8 mg/day

You can get too much iron so be cautious about supplementing it. Your diet should provide you with adequate amounts if you are eating a variety of foods including those listed above. Vitamin C in foods can also increase the absorption of iron.

If you are losing more iron than you can replace especially with excessive bleeding from heavy menstruation or other medical issues, you should discuss an iron supplement with your doctor. Some people may be consuming adequate amounts of iron but are unable to absorb it for a variety of reasons including Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, gastric bypass or certain medications.

Add some of these foods into your daily meals to give your blood a boost of iron!

2 Responses to My bloodwork showed that I had low iron. Which foods can help?

  1. Dear Kathy,
    Great and very detailed useful information on Iron. Would like to add one suggestion and that is consumption of coffee or tea with meals can affect Iron absorption and also taking certain other supplements like calcium or zinc may also interfere in its absorption.

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