Feeling tired? Lacking energy? Skin looking dull and pale? You might have an iron deficiency.
Around 10 million Americans are iron deficient, including five million with iron deficiency anemia, the most common form of anemia. Here, low levels of iron in the body make it difficult to produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells. This results in iron deficiency symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, shortness of breath, and lack of energy.
Since these iron deficiency symptoms are easy to miss or confuse with other conditions, it’s a good idea to get your hemoglobin levels checked to see whether you need more iron in your system. If so, here are some ways to fight an iron deficiency.
1. Take Iron Supplements
If you have iron deficiency anemia, your doctor will usually prescribe either an oral iron supplement such as ferrous gluconate, an intravenous IV Iron treatment, or a combination of the two. These stimulate your body to produce more hemoglobin, with then reduces your iron deficiency symptoms by encouraging red blood cells to transport more oxygen around the body.
2. Prioritize Iron-Rich Foods
As well as supplementation, those with iron deficiencies should make sure to eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Since lots of different kinds of foods are good sources of iron, it’s easy to combine them to make tasty and nutritious meals. Foods that pack in a lot of iron include leafy greens, nuts and seeds, legumes, tofu, shellfish, and red meat.
3. Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
As well as the symptoms listed above, an iron deficiency causes you to become more prone to infections due to a weakened immune system. Increasing your intake of vitamin C can boosts your defenses from within while also making it easier for your body to absorb the extra iron you’re consuming. Aside from oranges, good sources of vitamin C include peppers, kiwis, potatoes, strawberries, and broccoli.
4. Avoid Foods That Block Iron Absorption
Iron deficiency treatment options often stress how important it is to avoid taking supplements with foods and drinks that can interfere with iron absorption. These include tea and coffee, milk, grapes, brown rice, and parsley. Although, it may be best to avoid them altogether if you have severe iron deficiency anemia.
5. Change Your Cooking Techniques
As well as prioritizing certain foods and avoiding others, changing your cooking techniques can help you maximize your iron intake.
Cooking with a cast-iron skillet can add significant amounts of iron to your food so you might want to get new pots and pans to boost your iron levels. Also, cooking food for less time can help it to retain more nutrients. Feel free to eat your red meat rare and aim to consume iron-rich fruit and veggies raw if possible.
How to Fight an Iron Deficiency
Although iron deficiency is a widespread problem in the US and across the world, it’s a lot easier to overcome it than many people realize.
Supplementation is key, especially if you have iron deficiency anemia, while following the right diet can help boost your iron levels and restore your health in no time.
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