Iron rich foods

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Iron-rich foods

There are two types of iron – heme (found in animal products) and non-heme (found in plant sources). Heme iron is far easier to absorb from food and is found abundantly in red meat. Non-heme iron on the  {include file=google/200×200} other hand is much harder to absorb and in addition is found in much smaller quantities in plant-based products. This is why vegetarians have difficulty maintain adequate iron stores and why they are prone to anemia. Iron-deficient anemia is a major cause of chronic tiredness.

Foods that contain heme-iron

# Red meat (beef, lamb, pork, offal) is rich in iron that is easily absorbed. The darker the meat, the more iron it contains.
# Poultry contains some iron, and leg meat contains more iron than breast meat.
# Fish contains some iron too, especially oily fish and molluscs (mussels, etc.)

Foods that contain non-heme sources

# Green leafy vegetables, such as watercress, spinach and kale, contain some iron
# Whole grains, especially barley and oats
# Peas and beans Seeds and nuts, especially sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, pecans and almonds
# Egg yolks (not vegan)
# Black strap molasses Increasing iron absorption from food

# Vitamin C helps the body absorb non-heme iron on plant foods. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables and these should be eaten at the same time as the foods that contain iron. Alternatively, vitamin C supplements can be taken with meals.

# Reduce your intake of dairy products as this will inhibit the absorption of iron from foods. This is particularly the case in women. Increase your calcium intake with other non-dairy foods such as nuts, seeds, peas, beans and green leafy vegetables.

# Caffeine inhibits iron absorption from food. Don't drink tea, coffee or cola drinks during meals. Keep them at least 2 hours away from meals.

Please note: The information in this article is not intended to take the place of a personal relationship with a qualified health practitioner nor is it intended as medical advice.

Alison Cassar is a naturopathic practitioner and nutritionist and runs a busy clinic in Sydney, Australia. Her particular interest is chronic tiredness as it's a very common presenting symptom in clinic. Her website and e-book the many causes of tiredness as well as solutions and prevention.


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