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What are the best foods to increase iron levels?

The Best Heme Iron Foods To Increase Iron Levels
The Best Non-Heme Iron Foods To Increase Iron Levels

Iron deficiency is something I’m seeing more and more in clinic, as more of us turn to plant-based, vegetarian or vegan diets. Why is this? Let’s talk a little bit about iron.

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Iron is a hugely important mineral. It has hundreds of functions in the body, including: production of blood, producing energy, supporting the immune system, the movement of oxygen through the blood and maintaining healthy hair, skin, nails and cells.

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In the UK, the recommendation for menstruating women between the ages of 19-50 is to have at least 14.8mg of iron per day from food. Men need much less at 8.7mg per day.

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Iron from food is found in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron, which is mainly found in red meat, the dark meat of poultry and seafood is well absorbed by the body. The protein content of these foods helps to increase absorption. Heme iron makes up 95% of the functional iron in the body.

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Non-heme iron, which comes from plant-based sources is less well absorbed, so more of it needs to be eaten, to really make a difference to iron levels. Non-heme iron foods need to be eaten with vitamin C foods to increase absorption.

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If you’re plant-based or thinking of becoming plant-based, it’s really important to have iron based foods at every single meal in order to ensure that you’re getting enough of this essential mineral.

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The graphics on this post have some of the top heme iron foods and non-heme iron foods. Which are your favourites?

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Look out for my next post, where I’ll get into the symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia!

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Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

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