Ask A Dietitian
Do you have a nutrition question you need answered?
I’m anemic. What foods should I eat to increase my iron level?
Anemia, or iron-deficiency anemia, results from having constantly low or inadequate levels of iron in the body. For those with anemia, a healthful diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts and low-fat dairy can provide adequate amounts of iron. However, it is important to know that there are many factors that affect the absorption of iron.
There are two types of iron, iron found in plant and iron found in animals. The main difference between the two is that the iron from animal foods is absorbed 2-3 times more than that of plant foods. Plant iron absorption is lower because it depends on what else is consumed at the meal. You can increase plant iron absorption by adding iron rich animal foods and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables to the meal. Cooking with cast iron skillets can also enhance iron absorption. Some foods should be avoided or consumed without meals because they contain substances that inhibit iron absorption; such as tea, coffee, caffeinated beverages, dairy and antacids.