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Foods that can Fight Iron Deficiency

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 Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and the leading cause of anemia in the United States.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency

  • Pale skin and fingernails
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Glossitis (inflamed tongue)
  • Fatigue

Sources of Iron

The body incorporates two to three times more iron from animal sources than from plants. Some of the best animal sources of iron are:

  • Lean beef
  • Oysters
  • Chicken
  • Turkey

Additionally, you consume less of the iron in plants, and adding a source of vitamin C to vegetarian sources of iron will enhance absorption.

Some of the best plant sources of iron are:

  • Tofu
  • Baked potatoes
  • Cashews
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach
  • Whole-grain and enriched bread
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

 How to Prevent Iron Deficiency

Though is good to incorporate yourself with healthy diets, such as diets that are good sources of iron to avoid deficiencies.  Combine vegetarian sources of iron with vitamin C in the same meal.

For instance a bell pepper-bean salad, spinach with lemon juice, or fortified cereal and berries.

If treatment for iron deficiency is needed, a healthcare provider will assess the iron status and determine the exact form of treatment which may include changes in diet or taking supplements.

High-Risk Populations

The following populations are at a higher risk for developing iron deficiency.

  • Women Who Are Pregnant: Increased blood volume requires more iron to drive oxygen to the baby and growing reproductive organs. Consult your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist before taking an iron supplement.
  • Young Children: Babies store enough iron for the first six months of life. After six months, their iron needs increase. Breast milk and iron-fortified infant formula can supply the amount of iron not met by solids. Cow’s milk is a poor source of iron.                                                                                                                                            When children drink too much milk, they crowd out other foods and may develop “milk anemia.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no cow’s milk until after one year, at which point it should be limited to no more than 4 cups per day.
  • Adolescent Girls: Their often inconsistent or restricted diets combined with rapid growth put adolescent girls at risk.
  • Women of Childbearing Age: Women with excessively heavy menstrual periods may develop iron deficiency.
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