Iron plays a crucial role in your body. The mineral is needed for oxygen absorption. It pairs with hemoglobin in the blood to transport oxygen to various parts of the body. Besides, it performs several other functions, for instance, it helps muscles store oxygen.
It is also a part of several enzymes that are needed for several cellular functions. A shortage of iron can lead to a serious health consequence, which is known by the name of anemia. Iron deficiency can be for two major reasons.
These are a lack of iron intake in the body and a decline in the absorption of iron in the body. In the second case, you may be taking a significant content of the mineral iron but the body may not be using as it is not absorbed by the body.
You may also face an iron deficiency due to an increased need for iron, for instance, in cases of heavy blood loss or frequent blood donation, and so on. Your need for iron intake also increases when you are expecting a baby.
Iron deficiency is one of the leading mineral deficiencies in the US. It is also a leading cause of anemia. Here is more on iron deficiency and how to raise iron levels fast:
Symptoms of iron deficiency
Often, the first step of learning about a problem is recognizing its telltale signs. When it comes to a shortage of iron in the body, there are several symptoms that may surface. These include:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Decreased performance at work
- Brain fog and dizziness
- Leg cramps
- A decline in immune function
- Trouble maintaining the body temperature
Once you note these signs, it is best to consult a doctor immediately. Only a blood test can diagnose and confirm a deficiency of iron in your body.
Ways to Deal with Iron Deficiency
Some of the best ways to deal with a shortage of iron entail:
1. Take the right vitamins
Vitamin C is credited for its role in helping absorb iron. Subsequently, it makes sense that you eat lots of citrus fruits to provide the needed support to your body for absorbing iron effectively.
If you are not a fan of eating citrus fruits or simply want to add variety to your fruit intake, then you can put citrus fruits in the water that you drink. This will up your supply of the vitamin.
Camu Camu is also an excellent source of vitamin C and you can add it to your shakes to boost immunity. Also, know that calcium pills prevent the body from iron absorption. So, you need to reconsider your intake of calcium pills if you suffer from an iron deficiency. It’s best to discuss this with your doctor.
2. Eat seeds to increase your iron levels
A small, nutrient-dense component that can help you improve your iron levels are chia seeds. These are loaded with tons of iron alongside proteins. On top of that, chia seeds boast an excellent content of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber among other nutrients.
Hence, by adding chia seeds to your diet, you can not only improve your energy levels but get a lot of other vital nutrients. These seeds also help boost your energy levels, so don’t hesitate in adding a sprinkle of chia seeds to your morning smoothie.
3. Cook food in cast iron crockery
The food that you eat and the metal cookware that you use for cooking your meals contain the same iron that your body requires. Therefore, by using cast-iron pots and pan, you can increase the chance of the mineral leaching into the food that you eat. Although this won’t significantly help you along the front of how to raise iron levels fast, it is a good measure for avoiding iron deficiency.
4. Have an iron injection
To be clear, this step is not something that you can execute on your own. You will need your doctor’s guidance in the matter. Besides, iron injections are for people who suffer from extensive iron deficiency and eating iron-enriched foods, supplements, and such measures are yielding any positive measures.
Iron shots are typically prescribed for those on erythropoiesis-stimulating agents. These enhance the body’s iron requirements by upping the blood cell production. The injections can lead to side effects in certain instances too. For instance, one can face anaphylaxis due to an allergic reaction, low blood pressure, nausea, dizziness, or fainting.
5. Concentrate on eating heme-iron foods
Iron intake is not limited to having it from red meat only. There are other sources present as well. These include heme and non-heme foods. You should focus on including both of these to your diet:
Sources of heme iron
Heme iron is the best kind of iron as it can be absorbed by your body readily. About 40% of it can be absorbed. Food sources include:
- Fish including perch, tuna, haddock, and salmon
Sources of non-iron heme
This kind of iron is thought to come from plant sources. Common choices include:
- Beans such as soybeans and lentils
- Dried fruits like apricot and raisins
- Dark green leafy veggies such as kale and spinach
- Fortified cereals, wheat, oats, and wheat
6. Have foods that are high in vitamin A
In general, vitamin A is crucial for maintaining bone growth, healthy vision, and immune system. It is also helpful in boosting the iron absorption. A study found out that participants who had vitamin A from cereal-based meals were able to increase their iron absorption by 200% by rice, 140% by corn, and 80% by wheat.
Good sources of vitamin A are carrots, kales, squash, cantaloupe, oranges, red peppers, peaches, and apricots among other items.
7. Eat iron-enriched foods
Other iron-rich foods that are known for their iron content include spinach, spirulina, and goji berries. Spinach contains a very content of iron and is credited for helping you fight anemia.
Similarly, although it is a small seaweed, spirulina packs a lot of iron. It contains more iron than a steak. So, it is best to add its powdered form to your smoothie or add its crunchy form to your salad. Lastly, goji berries also contain a lot of iron.
8. Avoid foods that hinder iron absorption
The last tip to improve your iron intake is to avoid taking all those foods that obstruct iron absorption. These foods include:
As mentioned above, calcium is not a friend to iron absorption.
-Phytate containing foods
Phytate or phytic is present in legumes, nuts, cereals, whole grains, and soy. Just a small amount of this nutrient can drastically decrease your iron absorption.
-Food having polyphenols
Lastly, you should also reduce the amount of food that contains polyphenols as that all interrupts iron absorption. These foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes, tea, wine, coffee, cereals, tea, coffee, and more. Research proves that both tea and coffee can inhibit absorption of non-heme iron.
It is important to enhance your iron levels because iron is a crucial mineral that plays a significant role in your body. As a quick recap, take all iron-enriched foods and reduce the intake of foods that hamper its absorption in your body.