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How can you boost your iron levels with food?

Several foods can help boost your iron levels:

  1. Red meat: beef, pork, and lamb are all great sources of heme iron, which is easily absorbed by the body.

  2. Poultry: chicken and turkey are good sources of non-heme iron.

  3. Seafood: oysters, clams, and mussels are all high in iron, as are fish like tuna and salmon.

  4. Beans and legumes: lentils, chickpeas, and beans are all excellent sources of non-heme iron.

  5. Dark leafy greens: spinach, kale, and collard greens are all high in iron, as well as being rich in other nutrients like vitamins A and C, which can help improve iron absorption.

  6. Fortified cereals: many breakfast cereals are fortified with iron, and can be a convenient way to add more iron to your diet.

  7. Nuts and seeds: almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cashews are all good sources of iron.

It's also important to note that vitamin C can help improve the absorption of non-heme iron, so eating iron-rich foods along with foods high in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits, strawberries, and bell peppers) can be especially beneficial.

Certain foods and drinks can inhibit the absorption of iron in your body. Here are some common ones:

  • Calcium: High levels of calcium can interfere with the absorption of non-heme iron, which is the type of iron found in plant-based foods like legumes, nuts, and leafy greens. Consuming calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, at the same time as iron-rich foods can reduce iron absorption.

  • Phytic acid: Phytic acid is found in many plant-based foods, including whole grains, nuts, and legumes. It can bind to iron and other minerals, making it difficult for your body to absorb them.

  • Polyphenols: Polyphenols are compounds found in many plant-based foods and drinks, including tea, coffee, and wine. They can reduce the absorption of non-heme iron.

  • Fiber: High-fiber foods, such as whole grains and vegetables, can decrease the absorption of iron, especially non-heme iron.

It is important to note that these factors can affect iron absorption to varying degrees, and a balanced diet that includes a variety of iron-rich foods can still provide sufficient amounts of iron for most people.

If you are concerned about your iron levels or have been diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia, you should speak to a doctor or dietitian, who can give you personalized advice on how to optimize your iron intake.

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