Best Foods for Anemia

Posted on September 6, 2016




Anemia occurs when you have too little hemoglobin in your red blood cells or when you don't have enough red blood cells. The result is a reduced amount of oxygen in your bloodstream.

The symptoms of anemia can be quite easy to miss. You might be tired, irritable, faint or short of breath. Other more serious symptoms can occur if anemia is left unchecked. That's why it's important to correct the problem before it gets out of hand.

Fortunately, dietary changes often help improve symptoms of anemia.

The Role of Iron in the Body

Iron is a primary component of hemoglobin, the part of your blood cells that move oxygen from your lungs to the different parts of your body. To maintain the body's balance of iron, you must match the amount of iron your body needs with the amount your body loses. Iron is lost through stool, urine, sweat, hair, nails and during a woman's menstrual cycle. That's why it's vital to eat a diet rich in iron to ensure your blood is able to carry oxygen adequately.

Foods That Contain Iron

Many foods contain iron, so it's easy to get the amount you need. For example, find iron in:

  • Red meats like beef, pork lamb, kidneys and liver.
  • Fish like sardines, crab, anchovies, shrimps and mussels.
  • Eggs.
  • Cereals and fortified breads.
  • Nuts and seeds like peanuts, pecans, walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pine nuts.
  • Green, leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach and kale.
  • Beans and legumes.
  • Dried fruit like raisins and prunes.

How Much Iron Do You Need?

The amount of iron you need depends on your age and gender. In general, men and non-menstruating woman need 10 mg a day. Menstruating or nursing women need 15 mg of iron per day. Supplements alone are usually not enough to get your body the iron it needs. If you have questions about the amount of iron you should take, please consult a PBMC dietician.

Tips to Improve Iron Absorption

  • Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron so eat plenty of veggies and drink citrus juices.
  • Avoid tea and raw wheat bran during meals since it can interfere with iron absorption.
  • Eat enough folic acid. It can be found in foods like broccoli, leafy green vegetables, fortified cereals and beans.

Iron is vital to our body's ability to deliver oxygen to organs and tissues. Without the right amount, you risk anemia which can become a serious medical condition.