View Full Version : what foods to eat if iron deficient?

05-26-2007, 07:51 AM
I am deficient in iron what foods should I eat? Does vitamin B12 help too?

Johnny L.A.
05-26-2007, 07:54 AM
Dark, leafy greens such as kale.

I made a big batch of colcannon yesterday. :)

05-26-2007, 07:57 AM
What is kale? Anyway I heard greens like spinach are lower in iron than people think and it isnt absobed easily.

Johnny L.A.
05-26-2007, 08:02 AM
What is kale? Anyway I heard greens like spinach are lower in iron than people think and it isnt absobed easily.
Kale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kale).
Kale (also called Borecole) is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), green in color, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The Cultivar Group Acephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically.


Kale is considered to be one of the most highly nutritious vegetables...

Kale is a very good source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, Folic Acid, vitamin K and Carotenoids (which provide vitamin A).

05-26-2007, 08:05 AM
Got any kale recipes?

05-26-2007, 08:06 AM
Iron content of various foods/drinks

Food / Drink Iron content (mg)

1 pint of guinness 0.3mg
100g ready-to-eat apricots 3.4mg
100g ready-to eat prunes 2.6mg
1 egg 1.1mg
bowl of weetabix 4.2mg
bowl of porridge (40g) 1.6mg
3 oz grilled lamb chop 1.9mg


Johnny L.A.
05-26-2007, 08:08 AM
More on kale (http://www.innvista.com/HEALTH/foods/vegetables/kale.htm):
Although it keeps a long time in the coldest part of the refrigerator, its sweetness disappears with each passing day and becomes stronger over time. Unlike other greens that reduce in size up to eight times during cooking, kale only shrinks by half or a quarter. The older the leaf, the longer it will require cooking. Kale can be chopped and used raw in salads, cooked and added to rice or barley dishes, or served on its own as a side dish. The stalk and the leaf should be separated as each varies in its cooking times, with the stalks taking much longer than the leaf. Kale is super rich in vitamins A and C, as well as that of iron, which is easily absorbed because of the high vitamin C content. It is also a good source of vitamins E and B complex, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Although greens are high in calcium, much of it is not absorbed. However, kale still ranks higher in bioavailable calcium than other greens. It takes 15.5 servings of spinach or 5.2 servings of broccoli to equal the same amount of available calcium found in 3.5 servings of kale.

Johnny L.A.
05-26-2007, 08:14 AM
Got any kale recipes?
Suggestions in the quote above. I use it in colcannon, which is mashed potatoes with kale. Make the mashed potatoes as usual. Cut the stems from the kale and discard (mine go onto the compost pile), chop the leaves coarsely and boil in salted water, drain, and add to the potatoes. A few weeks ago my roommate cooked chopped kale in a skillet with onions and made an omelette with them.

Other good sources of iron include red meat, fish and poultry.

A.R. Cane
05-26-2007, 08:34 AM
I am deficient in iron what foods should I eat? Does vitamin B12 help too?

Liver and onions, yum.
I've heard that B12 supplements are a waste of money as B12 cannot be absorbed by the human body that way, B12 is present in meat and dairy, other than that B12 can only be given by injection. Maybe one of our medical types can clarify.

Fear Itself
05-26-2007, 08:39 AM
Vitimin pills are totally underused. Everone should take a daily vitimin. Some foodies say it's not natural, but the world is no longer the rain forest we started in.Vitamins only ensure you will have the world's most expensive pee.

Qadgop the Mercotan
05-26-2007, 09:04 AM
Red meat is a good source of iron, as is blood sausage.

B12 is worthless unless you suffer from B12 deficiency, which you probably don't.

Chief Pedant
05-26-2007, 10:51 AM
I am deficient in iron what foods should I eat? Does vitamin B12 help too?

New iron deficiencies are usually worked up to find the cause. The most worrisome is hidden intestinal bleeding from ulcers or tumors. If you are anything but severely iron deficient, you may be advised to take supplemental iron unil you return to normal, and then a better diet should suffice. For a severe deficiency you might need prescription-level iron supplements. Iron deficiency is usually the result of excess blood loss, particularly through menstruation if the individual is otherwise healthy. It can also result from very poor dietary intake, but the body does not tend to lose iron except by bleeding so this is not usually a cause. There are good reasons to eat lots of other additionally nutritious foods but no reason not to zero in on what you are deficient in, and replace it with a pill.

Proper medical advice from a physician is essential.

B12 will not help iron deficiency. The majority of people who are deficient in B12 become deficient because they don't absorb it properly in the first place (especially the elderly) so B12 deficiency is most commonly corrected by giving injections of it.

05-26-2007, 10:53 AM
What is kale? Anyway I heard greens like spinach are lower in iron than people think and it isnt absobed easily.

Fresh spinich in place of lettuce on sandwiches has always worked for me. From the Red Cross information sheets, the idea being that increased vitamin C will improve iron absorption.

Harriet the Spry
05-26-2007, 11:15 AM
I found that Luna bars, with 30% daily iron in each, helped keep my iron in the healthy range when I was very busy and not eating particularly well. As a nutrition bar designed for women, the iron is in there to counter monthly iron loss.

05-26-2007, 11:27 AM

05-26-2007, 11:34 AM
Instant Cream of Wheat. (The instant type is fortified with extra iron.) Molasses on it will boost the iron even further. Macaroni. Meat.


Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
05-26-2007, 11:36 AM

05-26-2007, 11:40 AM

05-26-2007, 11:59 AM
No cites for any of what follows, sorry"

Guavas (Guayabas). I also understand that there is something in them that makes the iron easier to absorb and use for the body. Iron from animal sources is easier to assimilate for the body than iron from vegetable sources. Guavas have something in them that makes their iron as usable as that of animal sources.

They are also good sources of Vitamin C and Calcium

Yummy, too and easy to find in preserve form.

05-26-2007, 11:59 AM
When I was having iron level issues (due to heavy periods and generally not eating properly), my GP said that there's some evidence that vitamin C helps with iron absorption, but this is not as well proven as the vitamin D/calcium combination. Still, it can't hurt to make sure you're getting enough C in your diet. Fresh fruits and veggies never killed anybody.

The iron in meat is the most bioavailable, then that in plant foods, and least of all the elemental iron used in iron-enriched flours and cereals. However, any of the iron will help - you just need somewhat more of the less absorbable types.

Be cautious with iron suppliments. They can cause upset tummies and killer constipation (in my experience this is less of a problem with the ones made from animal sources than the cheaper ones that use non-biological sources), and are toxic if you overdo. Take them with meals if you take them at all, and stick to the recommended dose.

More here: http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthissues/irondeficiency/

Bill Door
05-26-2007, 03:42 PM
pinkfrog , who told you you had an iron deficiency without giving you advice on how to remediate it? It seems like the reasonable thing to do is give the diagnoses and a list of iron rich foods simultaneously.

05-26-2007, 05:31 PM
Stop drinking coffee. Caffeine interferes with iron absorption (http://www.womenof.com/articles/hc_8_30_04.asp) . Drink Milo or Ovaltine (whatever's available in your area) instead - both are fortified with iron.

Many breakfast cereals are fortified with iron. Check the packets - Sultana Bran is a good one.

Cook with cast iron cookware, especially if you're cooking with acidic foods like tomato.

Pate is great UNLESS YOU"RE PREGNANT, in which case, no.

05-26-2007, 06:28 PM
FWIW, while B12 supplements will not help you unless you have a deficiency, it is available in a spray (http://www.nascobal.com/), that is absorbed through the nasal mucosa (in layman's terms, you squirt it up your nose) as well as by injection.

05-27-2007, 12:10 AM
Spinach is a very poor source of dietary iron- from Wiki:

"In popular folklore, spinach is a rich source of iron. In reality, a 60 gram serving of boiled spinach contains around 1.9 mg of iron (slightly more when eaten raw). A good many green vegetables contain less than 1 mg of iron for an equivalent serving. Hence spinach does contain a relatively high level of iron for a vegetable, but its consumption does not have special health connotations as folklore might suggest.

Ultimately, the bioavailability of iron is dependent on its absorption. This is influenced by a number of factors. Iron enters the body in two forms: nonheme iron and heme iron. All of the iron in grains and vegetables, and about three fifths of the iron in animal food sources (meats), is nonheme iron. The much smaller remaining portion from meats is heme iron (Williams, 1993).

This larger portion of dietary iron (nonheme) is absorbed slowly in its many food sources, including spinach. This absorption may vary widely depending on the presence of binders such as fiber or enhancers, such as vitamin C. Therefore, the body's absorption of non-heme iron can be improved by consuming foods that are rich in vitamin C. However, spinach contains high levels of oxalate. Oxalates bind to iron to form ferrous oxalate and remove iron from the body. Therefore, a diet high in oxalate (or phosphate or phytate) leads to a decrease in iron absorption."

From Iron on Wiki:
"Good sources of dietary iron include red meat, fish, poultry, lentils, beans, leaf vegetables, tofu, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, potatoes with skin, bread made from completely whole-grain flour, molasses, teff and farina. Iron in meat is more easily absorbed than iron in vegetables"

Kale is a low Oxalate plant:
"The aim of the present study was to evaluate Mg absorption from a test meal served with an oxalate-rich vegetable, spinach, as compared with a test meal served with a vegetable with a low oxalate content, kale. Mg absorption was measured by a stable-isotope technique based on extrinsic labelling of the test meals and faecal monitoring of the excreted isotope labels. Nine healthy adults participated in the study. The test meals were based on 100 g phytate-free white bread, served with 300 g spinach (66 mmol oxalate; 07 mmol 25Mg label added, 50 mmol total Mg) or 300 g kale (01 mmol oxalate; 12 mmol 26Mg label added, 48 mmol total Mg). The test meals were served on days 1 and 3, at breakfast and lunch, using a cross-over design. The results from the present study demonstrated that apparent Mg absorption was significantly lower from the meal served with spinach (267 (sd 104) %) than the meal served with kale (365 (sd 118) %) (P=001). However, the lower fractional apparent Mg absorption from the test meal served with spinach can be assumed to be, at least partly, counterbalanced by the higher native Mg content of spinach as compared with kale. Although based on indirect evidence, i.e. not based on an evaluation of added (or removed) oxalic acid, the difference in Mg absorption observed in the present study is attributed to the difference in oxalic acid content between the two vegetables."

Thus, it would seem Kale is OK, but meat is better.

Vit B-12 is a problem in some Vegans and older dudes, and if you are either, you should consider a B-12 supplement. Cheap insurance. Yes, if you take a pill, much is lost but pill B-12 is so cheap you can afford the "wastage".