zig
0

Notifications

  • You're all caught up!

Fast Ways of Getting Iron in the Blood

by
author image Nicole Crawford
Nicole Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer, doula and pre/post-natal fitness specialist. She is studying to be a nutrition coach and RYT 200 yoga teacher. Nicole contributes regularly at Breaking Muscle and has also written for "Paleo Magazine," The Bump and Fit Bottomed Mamas.
Fast Ways of Getting Iron in the Blood
Red meat is an excellent source of heme iron. Photo Credit Jacek Chabraszewski/iStock/Getty Images

Low iron in the bloodstream can lead to a variety of problems, including iron deficiency anemia. As noted by the World Health Organization, anemia is the world's leading nutritional deficiency, affecting more than 30 percent of the world's population. Fortunately, low iron levels can usually be reversed with careful medical attention.

Food Sources

Fast Ways of Getting Iron in the Blood
Iron can be found in seafood, poultry, beans and tofu. Photo Credit Ildiko Papp/iStock/Getty Images

Dietary sources of iron come in two forms. Heme iron occurs in animal products like red meat, liver, fish and poultry. Heme iron is the most easily absorbed type of iron, although it is much less common than non-heme iron, which is present in beans, lentils, spinach, tofu and raisins. Non-heme iron is also added to fortified foods like cereals, breads and oatmeal. Vitamin C improves the absorption of non-heme iron, whereas calcium, polyphenols, tannins and phytates can decrease absorption rates. For this reason, you should always eat foods that contain non-heme iron with foods that are high in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts.

Supplements

Fast Ways of Getting Iron in the Blood
Iron supplementation can help bring your levels back to normal. Photo Credit Iromaya Images/Iromaya/Getty Images

If dietary changes are unable to bring iron levels back to normal, your doctor might recommend iron supplementation. Supplements are available in tablet and liquid form. The most frequent form of iron used in supplements is ferrous iron salts, which include ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate and ferrous gluconate. Ferrous fumarate is the most readily absorbed type of iron supplements, although ferrous sulfate is the most commonly used. Iron in supplements is best absorbed when taken two or three times over the course of the day with foods containing vitamin C. Contact your physician before taking iron supplements, as iron overload in the blood can lead to organ damage.

Injections

Fast Ways of Getting Iron in the Blood
Iron injections are used in rare cases. Photo Credit TheYok/iStock/Getty Images

In rare cases of iron deficiency that are not alleviated by dietary changes and supplementation, doctors may recommend iron injections. Shots must always be administered by a trained professional in a medical setting, such as a hospital or doctor's office. Potential side effects include anaphylaxis, a serious and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction, as well as nausea, dizziness, fainting and low blood pressure. Iron shots are commonly used for patients who take erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), which boost blood cell production and therefore increase iron needs.

Considerations

Fast Ways of Getting Iron in the Blood
Certain conditions put you at risk for iron deficiency. Photo Credit Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Although increased dietary intake is usually safe and free of side effects, iron supplements can cause undesirable side effects, like a metallic taste in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, headache or rash. Always consult your doctor to determine the best way to increase your iron levels and decrease the chances of negative effects. Some conditions, like burns, dialysis, intestinal diseases, bleeding disorders and stomach removal, may put you at increased risk for iron deficiency. Pregnant women and infants who are exclusively breastfed are also at increased risk for iron deficiency.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
GOAL
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
GENDER
  • Female
  • Male
lbs.
ft. in.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

CURRENTLY TRENDING

Demand Media

Our Privacy Policy has been updated. Please take a moment and read it here.