Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, according to 2001 information listed by the Office of Dietary Supplements. It can leave you feeling tired, decrease your ability to concentrate and lower your immune function. An anemia diet is a diet that increases your intake of iron-rich foods to reverse your deficiency.
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Your daily iron needs vary depending on your age and sex. Consult with your doctor to determine how much iron you should be eating each day on your anemia diet. The recommended dietary allowances for adult men and women over the age of 51 are 8 mg a day, and for women aged 19 to 50, it is 18 mg a day.
Types of Iron
There are two different types of iron: heme and non-heme iron. Animal proteins, such as beef and chicken, are your primary source of heme iron, which is easily absorbed by your body. Plant-based foods, such as spinach and legumes, are your primary source of non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is not as readily absorbed as heme iron. Including vitamin C rich foods, such as tomatoes and peppers, with your non-heme sources of iron can enhance its absorption.
A high-iron breakfast meal may include 1 cup of iron-fortified instant oatmeal with 4 tbsp. of raisins served with 1 cup of orange juice. This meal contains about 13 mg of iron, and the vitamin C in the orange juice will help improve your absorption. Coffee and tea can inhibit your iron absorption, and you may be better off drinking it in between meals on your anemia diet.
For lunch, on your anemia diet you can have a roast beef sandwich made with 3 oz. of lean roast beef deli meat on two slices of iron-enriched bread. Serve your lunch meal with 1 cup of sliced strawberries, carrot sticks and a container of low-fat yogurt. This meal contains about 5 mg of iron. Whole grains may also decrease your iron absorption and you may be better off including refined-flour products, such as white breads, on your high-iron diet.
A healthy dinner meal with foods high in iron consists of 3 oz. of roasted chicken breast with a medium baked potato with 1 tsp. of margarine, 1 cup of cooked lima beans and steamed broccoli. This meal contains about 5.6 mg of iron, and the vitamin C in the baked potato and broccoli will help increase your iron absorption.