Iron facilitates multiple processes vital to the functionality of the human body. It is crucial in distributing oxygen throughout the body and producing collagen-forming skin, blood vessels, and tissue.
Fortunately, you can take several restorative measures to maintain your iron levels for optimal health. Read on for five practical ways to increase your blood iron level.
Eat iron-rich foods
Eating iron-rich foods is the most direct way to increase your natural inventory of this crucial mineral. Food contains two different types of iron; Heme and Non-Heme iron. Heme is the model of iron more efficiently absorbed within the body and is present in meat, fish, and poultry.
Non-heme iron is plentiful in plant-based foods such as spinach, broccoli, nuts, and beats. Iron-rich foods packed with vitamin C can also help increase iron absorption.
If you are not getting enough iron from your diet or have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, your doctor may recommend iron infusions to boost iron levels. Iron infusions involve iron injections directly into your bloodstream through intravenous administration. This supplementation is for patients with severe iron deficiency anemia.
How long do iron infusion side effects last? Most people do not experience adverse effects and can resume their normal activities right away. Potential side effects of IV iron supplementation include minor bruising or swelling at the injection site. These symptoms typically resolve within a few days when administered correctly.
Contact your doctor right away if you experience severe side effects such as headaches, abdominal pain, or heart palpitations.
Avoid foods that inhibit iron absorption
Certain foods and drinks suppress the absorption of dietary iron into the body. These include coffee, tea, dairy products, peppermint, and wheat bran.
High amounts of calcium can also interfere with iron absorption. Limit your intake of these foods when trying to increase iron levels.
Increase Vitamin C intake
Vitamin C helps our bodies absorb more dietary irons. Ensure you eat vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, bell peppers, kiwis, strawberries, and tomatoes. Vitamin C in the digestive system can help convert the iron found in plant-based foods into a more readily available form by the body.
Look to obtain vitamin C from food sources whenever possible, but a supplement can also be beneficial if you cannot get enough through your diet. Always consult with a medical professional before starting any new supplement or regimen.
Use cast iron cookware
Cast iron pans and cookware have long been considered essential for many chefs and home cooks due to their incomparable kitchen performance.
An additional benefit is that they can work to increase the content of non-heme iron in foods cooked in cast iron. Studies have shown that most foods contain more iron when cooked in cast iron than non-iron cookware.
How can you know if you have low iron levels?
If you are experiencing fatigue, cold hands and feet, and weakness, it’s essential to get tested to determine if low blood iron is causing your symptoms. Testing may consist of one or more blood tests that can be done at your doctor’s office, testing lab, or at home with a concierge service.
You can overdose on iron, a condition called iron overload, which can damage many organs in your body over time. As such, following your doctor’s treatment plan as prescribed is essential.
Increasing your body's iron levels is easy with these healthy steps. Always consult a doctor before making changes to your diet or supplement regimen. They can evaluate what would be best suited for you based on individual needs and health conditions. With these measures, you can get back up to optimal levels.