Foods Rich in Iron

Iron is an important nutrient in the diet that keeps the body healthy.  Iron is also needed for the formations of healthy blood.  A diet low in iron leads to irons deficiency i.e. anaemia

Dietary Recommendations

  • Iron in best absorbed in the presence of Vitamin c (ascorbic acid)
  • Include  foods rich in vitamin  include (oranges, grapefruit, guavas, tomatoes, citrus fruit, pawpaw, kiwi fruit, fresh vegetables and salads and other fruit) at each meal
  • Avoid drinking tea, coffee, hot chocolate and caffeine containing cooldrinks, (colas) with meals as it decreases the amount of iron that the body can absorb.
  • Avoid taking antacids as it will also decrease iron absorption
  • Avoid drinking excessive milk with meals
  • Improve food choices to increase amount of dietary iron

If iron supplements have been recommended:

  • Have supplements between meals together with foods rich in vitamin C or a vitamin C supplement
  • If discomfort is experienced, then take the supplements with the meal
  • Do not take supplements with tea, milk or coffee.
  • Do not take supplements with antacids
  • Do not stop the iron supplements because you are feeling better, unless you have been told to so by the doctor or dietician

Causes of iron deficiency anaemia

  • Not eating enough f the foods that contain iron.
  • Chronic blood loss e.g. bleeding ulcer. bleeding haemorrhoids, parasites (hookworms etc) malignancy or excessive menstrual flow
  • Increased need by the body for iron e.g. during infancy, childhood (important growing years), puberty, pregnancy and when lactating (breast feeding)
  • Less iron is being absorbed by the body

Symptoms of iron deficiency

  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • brittle nails and hair
  • breathlessness
  • poor appetite
  • poor growth and weight gain
  • weakness
  • lack of concentration

Foods rich in iron

  • Animal Sources: liver, kidney, chicken and turkey, tripe, shellfish, lean meat, fish tinned, fresh or frozen
  • Non-Animal Sources: dried fruit, nuts, molasses, wholegrain breads, dried beans and lentils, green leafy vegetables, cereals and iron-fortified cereals

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This page last edited on 13 October, 2021

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