If you find yourself often feeling tired and sluggish regardless of how much you sleep, you could be low on iron. Fortunately, increasing your body’s iron stores is simple. There are many foods you can eat and ways to improve the absorption abilities of iron in food to get the most out of what you consume.

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When looking for sources of iron in your food, there are two main sources. The first is heme iron and comes from animals and animal products. The other is non-heme iron and is found in pants. While animal products can contain both types, plants only have non-heme iron.

Animal-Based Sources of Iron
Beef
Chicken
Oysters
Turkey
Eggs

Plant-Based Sources of Iron
Beans
Blackstrap molasses
Broccoli
Dark leafy greens
Lentils
Pumpkin seeds
Soy products

Ways to Encourage Iron Absorption
Depending on what and how you’re eating, iron may not be absorbed easily. Non-heme iron is harder for your body to absorb than heme iron, and many plants contain things like tannins and polyphenols that can also make absorption more difficult. This means that you may have to make adjustments to how you eat in order to maximize the iron you’re taking in.

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Soak Grains – By soaking and rinsing your grains before you cook them, you make them easier to digest and also reduce the amount of phytic acid in them to help improve the iron absorption. Grains such as brown rice and farro do best when soaked.
Steam Greens – Raw vegetables aren’t necessarily the best when it comes to iron. Lightly steaming greens like spinach and broccoli will help to reduce the oxalic acid in them, making the iron more available. To compare, a cup of raw spinach contains 1mg of iron while the same amount of cooked contains up to 6mg. Frozen greens have been steamed or blanched prior to freezing, so they are the best choice for things like smoothies and sauces.
Pair Iron-Rich Foods with Vitamin C – Calcium works against your body’s absorption of iron as it competes with it. Vitamin C, on the other hand, helps your body to absorb iron. For this reason, it helps to cook foods like beans and greens with other foods that are full of vitamin c like tomatoes, peppers or citrus. Lemon juice on greens also helps to enhance the iron.

Being low in certain minerals can affect your health and your mood. Learning how to identify the signs of being deficient can help you determine what you can do to help boost your levels. We strive to provide you with the knowledge to live well and stay healthy.

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