Increase your iron levels with these foods

 
Dr. Marita Schauch
 

Do you suffer from fatigue, dizziness, brittle nails, or damaged hair?

While these symptoms can be associated with many different causes, a common one is low iron levels.

It can be difficult to get enough iron from our food, especially if we don’t make the time to meal prep or be diligent with our diet. The good news is that iron is found in many common food staples and can be easily incorporated into our favourite meals.

I recommend seeing your naturopathic doctor to explain your symptoms, and then getting your iron levels checked.  If your iron levels are low, it’s a good idea to take a supplement (talk to your doctor about the correct dosing appropriate for you) and incorporate the following foods into your diet:

Dark chocolate

While important to eat in moderation due to the sugar content, there are over 13 milligrams of iron in one bar of dark chocolate. Plus, dark chocolate contains polyphenols, flavanols and catechins - powerful antioxidants that help protect your body against free radicals that cause oxidative damage. I recommend choosing dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao - the higher the percentage of cacao, the less room there is for additives that block the absorption of antioxidants.  *Don’t forget that chocolate has caffeine in it so you may want to consume it earlier in the day to avoid sleep disturbances.

Spinach

Add these leafy greens to your smoothie, salad, soup or stir-fry for a healthy dose of iron. Not only does spinach have 0.8 milligrams of non-heme iron per serving, it also contains magnesium, calcium, and is packed with chlorophyll, helping to reduce carcinogenic effects and prevent cancer.

Lentils

These low-calorie, protein-packed legumes are a staple in curries, soups, stews, and salads. With over 6.6 milligrams of iron in one cup of iron, they also provide folate, magnesium and fibre.
Oats

Oatmeal cookies, overnight oats and energy balls are a great way to include iron-packed oats into your diet. In a single  cup, you can get as much as 7.4 milligrams of iron as well as zinc, vitamin B, and phosphorous.

Nuts and seeds

Make your own trail mix, add nuts or seeds to salads, or incorporate them into baking for a simple way to load up on iron, fat and protein.  Sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are high in iron, calcium and zinc. Tahini and pumpkin seed butter are delicious spreads on rice crackers, a cut up apple or veggies.

Riley Webster