Iron is the most common mineral deficiency in the United States. Not only is it associated with anemia, but low stores of iron are also associated with increased asthma, restless legs, hair loss, impulsivity, poor concentration, fatigue and mood disturbances. The best way to screen for iron deficiency is to run a complete blood count, as well as a serum iron, total iron binding capacity and ferritin. All of these tests are available at conventional labs and often covered by insurance.
There are different sources of iron in our diets. Non-heme forms of iron come from plants like spinach, but are not well absorbed. Heme sources of iron are things like red meat, which some people do not like to eat.
There are many iron supplements available, but they can cause side effects such as constipation. You should not take a supplement of iron unless you talk to your physician, there are better sources of iron for supplements than others to help avoid G.I. issues.
Often people are only advised to change their diet or take a supplement. Here are a lot of other options to help increase your iron!
1. Cook with cast-iron
Good old cast-iron cookware infuses the food with iron! Scramble your eggs in seasons cast iron skillet and there is an extra 6 to 8 mg of iron in your diet! My grandma would be so proud I’m posting about cast iron’s benefits!
2. Lucky fish
Disclaimer: I get no money for promoting this product. I just love it! Anytime you’re cooking pasta, vegetables or rice, throwing this little guy into the pot along with some lemon juice will infuse the food with more iron! I also love that they donate their products to countries with chronic malnourishment.
For more information check out their site. https://luckyironfish.com/
Red raspberry leaf, dandelion, nettles and yellow dock are just some of the herbs that are found to be high in iron. Let alone all the other benefits they have! On the contrary, black tea contains tannins which decrease iron absorption. Simply switching up what you’re sipping on could make a big difference in your iron levels!
4. Iron injections
Another solution when people’s levels are really low, is to get an injection or an infusion of iron.
In order to be a candidate for this, you need to have recent documented bloodwork of your low levels of iron. Shots can be anywhere from once a month month to once a week. This is a quick way to get your iron stores up, without upsetting your G.I. tract. If this is something you may be interested in, hematologists often offer infusions in their office. Also, sometimes gastroenterologist do as well. Dr. Carissa Fioritto in our office is available for consults on iron injections.
The first step in a healthier journey and setting yourself up for success. Adequate nutrient levels allow you to have the energy and stamina to improve other aspects of your lifestyle and the opportunity to be your best self. Be sure to check your iron levels with your physician and make sure that they are optimal!