Below we share tips to help boost your iron levels.
Iron is a chemical element that is essential for our body to function properly. It is a vital component of haemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency is indeed common in women, especially during their reproductive years.
Women lose iron through blood during menstruation. As a result, they need to consume more iron to replenish the lost stores. Besides this, iron requirements increase during pregnancy to support the growing foetus and the expansion of maternal blood volume.
Plant-based sources of iron are less readily absorbed by the body compared to animal-based sources. Therefore, women who follow vegetarian or vegan diets may need to pay extra attention to their iron intake. Fortunately, making small changes in your routine can help ensure your iron levels stay in check. In this article, we share tips to help boost your iron levels.
Iron deficiency can be prevented through these simple tips:
1. Increase consumption of iron-rich foods
Include more iron-rich foods in your diet such as lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans, lentils, tofu, spinach, kale, broccoli, and fortified cereals and bread.
2. Combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C
Consuming iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods or beverages can enhance iron absorption. For example, consuming fruits alongside iron-rich plant foods or adding citrus juice to iron-fortified cereals.
3. Avoid consuming iron inhibitors
Certain substances, like tea, coffee, and calcium-rich foods, can inhibit iron absorption. Try to limit their intake or consume them separately from iron-rich foods.
4. Cook in cast-iron cookware
Cooking acidic foods (like tomato sauce) in cast-iron pots and pans can increase the iron content of your meals.
5. Consume iron supplements
In certain cases, iron supplements may be recommended, especially during pregnancy or in cases of severe deficiency. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplements.
6. Be mindful of your menstrual cycle
Women who experience heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding are at a higher risk of iron deficiency. Monitor your cycle and consider seeking medical advice if needed.
7. Increase vitamin B12 consumption
Vitamin B12 is crucial for iron absorption. Include foods like meat, fish, dairy products, and fortified cereals in your diet to ensure adequate B12 levels.
8. Cook using cast-iron skillets
Similar to cast-iron cookware, cooking with cast-iron skillets can add a small amount of iron to your meals, especially when preparing foods that contain some acidity.
9. Practice good gut health
An unhealthy gut can affect iron absorption. Incorporate probiotics and fibre-rich foods into your diet to support optimal gut health.
10. Regularly check iron levels
If you suspect an iron deficiency or have a history of low iron levels, consult your healthcare provider and get your iron levels tested regularly to monitor and address any deficiencies or potential problems.
It’s important to note that self-diagnosing iron deficiency and starting supplementation without professional guidance is not recommended. A medical professional can provide appropriate advice based on an individual’s specific needs and circumstances. These tips should only be followed along with seeking professional advice.