More iron!

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guinevere96
guinevere96 Posts: 1,445 Member
My doc said I could benefit from a higher iron intake but im having a bit of a hard time reaching my iron goal. I have an allergy to red meat and eat mostly vegetarian aside from fish and seafood. What are some yummy ideas for an iron rich diet?

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  • PeachyPlum
    PeachyPlum Posts: 1,243 Member
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    Fortified cereals, lentils, quinoa, dark greens like spinach.

    Honestly, the easiest thing to do is take an iron supplement (if you don't already). I'm a big fan of the slow release version, as the regular ones tend to cause some... Unpleasant digestive issues.
  • ibamosaserreinas
    ibamosaserreinas Posts: 294 Member
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    Breakfast cereals (especially the kids brands) are fortified with iron. Eggs. Beans. Super dark chocolate - check the % . Some chocolate has as much as 40%.

    When my iron is really low I'll get some liverwurst.

    I do a lot of cooking on cast iron too.
  • VeryKatie
    VeryKatie Posts: 5,949 Member
    edited July 2016
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    Get a supplement. If your iron is low, a change of diet will make it take years to fix what can be done in a few months of supplements. That's assuming that you can increase your iron intake through diet alone given your allergies.

    Menstruating women need to consume 18 mg of iron a day to MAINTAIN their current levels of iron and ferritin. If your iron is low, you need way more than that to actually increase it. If you can only eat plant sources of iron, your body can only absorb 1/3 of the iron you eat. Which means you need to eat more than 54 mg of iron a day to increase your blood iron levels (assuming 100% of your iron intake is from plants).

    Most nutrition labels are based on 14 mg of iron. So you essentially have to eat 386% DV iron per day... to maintain. That's why many female vegans struggle to maintain their iron. I'm sure some do figure out how to maintain it, but it would not be easy, and might also depend on the person's physiology.

    Many supplements come in 150 mg levels. Your doctor really should have told you your blood levels and made a recommendation of either what/how much/how often to eat or which supplement to take and for how long, given your circumstances. Did they tell you these things?

    Low ferritin is something I've been struggling with for a while. The healthy range for that is 20-200 (or something on that high end). It took me 3 months of taking 150 mg (~1000% DV) of iron a day to get my levels from 14 to 25, so I was in the range. And then I stopped taking them and my levels dropped again. So I'm at a total of 4 months now and things seem to be going well. I'm in the range, but trying to get a bit higher, since it's a pain in the butt to drop out of it so easily. And I do eat red meat at least twice a week.

    I agree with @PeachyPlum on the slow release. Look for brands FeraMax or PolyRide. They're expensive though. But more comfortable. And some pharmacies have bigger bottles that are more bang for your buck. I buy the bottle of 100 pills for $50ish (Canadian though. Don't know US prices).

    Chicken livers and mollusks are some of the highest non-red meat sources of iron in food. Grains are very low unless fortified, and your body can only extract a 1/3 of what's in plant sources (including spinach and other green veggies). Nutrition labels list total iron in plants, not absorb-able iron.

    Cook them mollusks (clams, oysters, scallops, mussels, etc. - you might need to check which species) in a buttery wine sauce for something tasty :) I have no idea how to make chicken livers tasty. I have not brought myself to try them yet... and I do eat meat lol.
  • JustAnotherOneOfThoseGirls
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    yeah, a multivitamin with iron/minerals is the easiest way, unless you want to gorge on leaves (about 500g spinach etc)
  • TeaBea
    TeaBea Posts: 14,517 Member
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    yeah, a multivitamin with iron/minerals is the easiest way, unless you want to gorge on leaves (about 500g spinach etc)

    This^

    A good multivitamin (check ALL labels) will likely have around 40%, while others may have none. Stand alone iron supplements can have as much as 360%! I cut these pills into quarters.
  • loxxsley
    loxxsley Posts: 20 Member
    edited July 2016
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    I'm a pescetarian too so I have the same problem and have been working on finding ways to get some more iron in my diet. I recently started eating Happy Campers Stompin' Good Seedy Buckwheat Molasses Bread. IDK how much bread you eat, but a loaf lasts me about a week, so a dollar a day? Two slices = over 20% of your daily iron intake, plus it's got things like inulin and flaxseed and it tastes pretty good—it's totally worth it. I've also been thinking about getting a Lucky Iron Fish—better than supplements, I think, and supporting a great cause too!

    Also, it's not a huge difference, but for a little boost, you could always try cooked soybeans, which are great boiled—with or without salt—and kicked up a notch with your favorite seasoning or just with something simple like a bit of lemon juice or sumac. Maybe try adding kale to your diet if you don't eat it already. It's great in salads or on a sandwich, and you can crisp it up in the oven with some seasonings and/or salt for a crunchy snack. I sometimes boil frozen kale as a side dish on its own, but I prefer fresh. Spinach has iron too (but I'm allergic, so I don't know what to do with it besides using it in salads of course.

    Finally, since you like seafood, I recommend oysters, mussels, and clams. My iron intake on the days I've eaten shellfish for lunch or dinner is almost always over 100%.

    Good luck finding what works for you! (:
  • redraidergirl2009
    redraidergirl2009 Posts: 2,560 Member
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    Spinach. My sister eats a lot of spinach and is able to give blood often as her iron is always good. She is also vegetarian. Beans are also a good source
  • fr33sia12
    fr33sia12 Posts: 1,258 Member
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    I take iron tablets, usually 2 during my period. Just make sure you don't take them with caffeine, anything with calcium or high fibre foods as they can hinder absorption. Best thing is to take them with vitamin C to help absorption.
  • callumwalker1995
    callumwalker1995 Posts: 389 Member
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    My doc said I could benefit from a higher iron intake but im having a bit of a hard time reaching my iron goal. I have an allergy to red meat and eat mostly vegetarian aside from fish and seafood. What are some yummy ideas for an iron rich diet?

    Add cumin spice to everything. So high in iron and tastes like curry win win
  • KassiesJourney
    KassiesJourney Posts: 306 Member
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    Use a supplement
  • sparklyglitterbomb
    sparklyglitterbomb Posts: 458 Member
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    Vitamin C will help with the absorption rate of iron. The iron in vegetable sources is different than that in red meats, and many vegetable/legume iron sources have other nutrients that hinder absorption.. so while you are consuming things with higher iron levels, like spinach and beans, your body is not able to actually use much of it. The supplements will be your best bet since you don't consume red meat. Ask your doctor what dosage would be best for you at your iron level.
  • MelaniaTrump
    MelaniaTrump Posts: 2,694 Member
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    A multivitamin may not be a bad idea. Especially if you think you might get pregnant in the future.
  • guinevere96
    guinevere96 Posts: 1,445 Member
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    My doc said I could benefit from a higher iron intake but im having a bit of a hard time reaching my iron goal. I have an allergy to red meat and eat mostly vegetarian aside from fish and seafood. What are some yummy ideas for an iron rich diet?

    Add cumin spice to everything. So high in iron and tastes like curry win win

    I just logged some cumin to see the stats and WOWIE you weren't kidding lol. Definitely have to try this.
  • guinevere96
    guinevere96 Posts: 1,445 Member
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    These were all super helpful suggestions, thanks so much! Definitely gonna go out and get a multivitamin or supplement shortly, and I guess this means I need to eat more spinach as well lol.
  • guinevere96
    guinevere96 Posts: 1,445 Member
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    I'm a pescetarian too so I have the same problem and have been working on finding ways to get some more iron in my diet. (:

    Very cool! I don't see as many pescatarians as I do your traditional vegetarian or vegan, so its nice to see someone else doing the same thing :-D
  • Erfw7471
    Erfw7471 Posts: 242 Member
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    These were all super helpful suggestions, thanks so much! Definitely gonna go out and get a multivitamin or supplement shortly, and I guess this means I need to eat more spinach as well lol.

    Calcium prohibits the absorption of iron, so a supplement will do better than a multi. And make sure to take the iron at least 2 hours away from any calcium-rich food.
  • rainbowbow
    rainbowbow Posts: 7,490 Member
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    Erfw7471 wrote: »
    These were all super helpful suggestions, thanks so much! Definitely gonna go out and get a multivitamin or supplement shortly, and I guess this means I need to eat more spinach as well lol.

    Calcium prohibits the absorption of iron, so a supplement will do better than a multi. And make sure to take the iron at least 2 hours away from any calcium-rich food.

    it's also best to take it on an empty stomach and with vitamin c as it increases absorption.

    Note: many people have bad side effects with iron supplements.

    This is why i take Spatone Iron-Enriched Water. I just pour a little sachet into a small glass of OJ first thing in the morning a few hours before i eat. Causes 0 stomach issues and helps me tremendously. And believe me, i've tried and spent hundreds on iron supplements before i found this one.