Iron absorption depends on several factors, including how much you get of certain nutrients. This mineral is responsible for supplying oxygen to all your organs and tissues with the help of the protein hemoglobin. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, decreased mental functioning and, for expectant mothers, small or premature babies. To stay healthy, eat plenty of iron-rich foods along with foods rich in vitamin C to enhance absorption.
Both animal and plant foods contain iron, and absorption depends on the specific form of iron. The body absorbs heme iron, found in animal products, more efficiently. Nonheme iron from plant sources is better absorbed when paired with vitamin C rich foods. Foods containing calcium, tannins, phytates and polyphenols decrease the absorption of nonheme iron. Tea, coffee, milk, legumes and whole grains contain these substances.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Eating one orange provides you with 70 milligrams of vitamin C. Fortified cereals, breakfast meats and eggs are all breakfast foods rich in iron. For better iron absorption, add an orange or orange juice to your breakfast. Three-fourths cup of orange juice provides 93 milligrams of vitamin C. If you are taking an iron supplement, take it with juice for more efficient absorption. Grapefruits or grapefruit juice are other excellent sources of vitamin C.
One of the richest sources of vitamin C is a red pepper. One red pepper contains 95 milligrams of vitamin C. Tomatoes, tomato juice, broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, cabbage, collards, turnips, potatoes and brussels sprouts are vitamin-C-rich vegetables. These vegetables can be added to your meal as a side dish when serving meat that is high in iron. You may also try tossing these vegetables into entrees such as in pastas, casseroles, soups or salads to help absorb iron.
Fresh strawberries, kiwifruit and cantaloupe are fruits rich in vitamin C. A half-cup of sliced strawberries contains 49 milligrams of vitamin C. Fruit juices offer a good source of vitamin C thanks to the addition of ascorbic acid through fortification. Check the label for vitamin C content. Incorporating fruit and fruit juice into your meals is a simple way to enhance absorption.