How To Improve your Iron Levels
Vegan, pregnant or not, low iron is a very common issue especially for women. Pregnancy, growth spurts, poor iron consumption, poor iron absorption, gut health issues, hormonal issues and big heavy cycles all can contribute to iron deficiency.
The main symptom of low iron is a feeling of being tired and weak. Some people also experience heart palpitations. In pregnancy, low iron increases risks for preterm delivery, low birth weight as well as immunity and cognitive development issues.
The most important time to increase iron for pregnancy is during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy when baby build his or hers own body iron stores to use in the first 6 months of life before solid foods are introduced.
The Australian Dietary guidelines recommend a daily intake of 27mg/day for pregnant women, 18mg for women and only 8 mg for men.
4 easy tips to improve your Iron levels:
1) Combine iron rich foods with Vitamin C-rich foods.
Vitamin C is proven to help the body absorb non-haem iron. Adding a piece of fruit or high in vitamin C vegetables alongside your iron-rich foods is a great way to help your body actually absorb the iron you are consuming.
2) Drink Coffee/ Tea one hour after your meal
Coffee and tea inhibit iron absorption so make sure to drink your tea or coffee 1 hour after or before a meal and try to limit them if you have very low iron. Also limit dairy intake as it is proven to inhibit iron absorption so if you have low iron you might want to rethink having a dairy flat white coffee at the same time as your breakfast.
3) Eat Wholegrains
Amaranth, sorghum, Quinoa, Teff, buckwheat, brown rice, spelt and whole wheat are all good choices of wholegrains with good iron content. Amaranth, spelt and quinoa have the highest iron content.
Cereals and wholegrain crackers are also an option. Make sure to soak your grains like quinoa and brown rice as non-soaked grains have higher phytic acid content which inhibits iron absorption.
4) Increase intake of Iron-rich foods
- Dried apricots
- Hemp seeds- I like adding them to smoothies, cereals, pasta, salads and pretty much anything! They pack 7.95mg of iron per 100gr compared with only 3mg per 100gr of steak!!
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
- Wholegrain crackers/ fortified breads and cereals
- Leafy green vegetables
- Smoothie with hemp seeds, soy milk and berries or
- Fortified cereals such as weetbix or peanut butter toast
- 1 piece of fresh fruit
- 3 dried apricots + handful of nuts
- 2 cup of salad greens
- ½ cup of good fats (olives or avocado)
- 1 cup of chickpeas canned
- 1 piece of fruit
- 1 tbsp of hemp seeds.
- Wholegrain crackers, hummus and vegetable sticks
- Or hemp seed based bliss balls or smoothie.
- 1 cup of brown rice
- 1 cup of beans
- 2 cups of mixed vegetables (including some greens)
- 1 citrus fruit
optional: 2 squares of dark chocolate (dark chocolate is high in iron! (11.9mg per 100gr !) Win win!)
I hope you enjoyed this article to help improve your iron levels. Let me know in the comment below or per email if you liked this article or have more questions.