Make Iron Work for You

Make Iron Work for You: Main Image
Eating iron and vitamin C rich foods, like peppers, strawberries, oranges, broccoli, and kiwi, enhances iron absorption

Low iron levels stem from two main sources: blood loss and not getting enough in the diet. The most common cause of iron-deficiency anemia in premenopausal women is excessive menstrual blood loss. However, iron deficiency may also signal other more serious conditions.

While eating an iron-rich diet (see tips that follow) is good for most people, it’s important not to supplement iron unless you know you are deficient as a small number of people may not be able to effectively eliminate iron, resulting in a toxic build-up of the mineral. Talk to your doctor before taking iron supplements.

  • Eat some C. Vitamin C, that is. Eating iron-containing foods with those that are rich in vitamin C, like peppers, strawberries, oranges, papaya, broccoli, and kiwi, enhances iron absorption.
  • Cook in cast iron. Cooking acidic foods like tomatoes in cast iron can increase the iron content of your meal.
  • Go paleo. Animal foods—including beef, poultry, venison, fish, oysters, and buffalo—contain the most absorbable form of iron, called heme iron.
  • Eat your veggies. Good plant-based sources of iron include beans, leafy greens, lentils, dried fruit, and blackstrap molasses.
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She cofounded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, and now sees patients in East Greenwich and Wakefield. Inspired by her passion for healthful eating and her own young daughters, Dr. Beauchamp is currently writing a book about optimizing children’s health through better nutrition.