If you’re looking to up the iron you consume, then you’ll want to ensure that you are absorbing as much as possible! Here are a few tips on how to increase your iron absorption.
Iron Absorption Enhancers
1. Heme Iron Foods: The Most Bang for Your Buck
There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. Meat, poultry, and seafood are good sources of heme iron (derived from animal tissue), while fruits, vegetables, and wheat are good sources of non-heme iron (plant-based and fortified foods). Of the two types, heme iron gives you slightly more bang for your buck when it comes to bioavailability. What does this mean in plain ol’ English? Heme iron is generally more readily absorbed by the body and is less impacted by other foods you eat.
With that said, one tip to help enhance iron of non-heme iron foods is to consume them alongside animal tissue.
Some good sources of heme iron include:
- Red meat, with liver being the highest in iron
- Poultry, especially the dark meat from thighs and legs
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C has been found to help the body absorb iron better, which means that consuming a source of vitamin C with your iron-rich foods can help you get more from them.
Some great sources of vitamin C are:
3. Avoid Foods that Can Inhibit Iron Absorption
Along with taking advantage of iron enhancers, you’ll also want to be aware of iron absorption inhibitors that can interfere with the iron you consume. Most of the absorption inhibitors we have talked about in previous articles interfere with non-heme iron absorption, such as polyphenols found in coffee and black tea, some berries, and some herbs and spices.
Foods that may inhibit both heme and non-heme iron are:
- Calcium, including both supplements and high sources of calcium, like dairy products
- Heartburn/acid reflux medications
You don’t need to avoid these things altogether, but it would be a good idea to consume them two hours before or after meals to keep them from interfering with your efforts to absorb more iron.
Finally, for those of you who are taking an iron supplement (or are considering taking one), you can get the full low-down on enhancing iron absorption by reading How to Get the Most out of Your Iron Supplement!
Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs