Combat exhaustion, cold feet, and brittle nails when they become a constant in your life, by eating some of the best foods for low iron levels. If you can relate to these symptoms, then, like many women, your iron levels may be low. Iron-deficiency anemia is a common condition for women, especially those who have not begun menopause. In the United States, approximately 10 million people are iron deficient, and half of those people have iron-deficiency anemia.
Though there are several symptoms of low iron levels, some women have no symptoms or the condition is overlooked. Since proper iron levels ensure that your body functions properly, it is vital to have a physician test you for anemia if you’re concerned. Fortunately, anemia is treatable, and you can maintain iron levels with the right vitamin supplements and a proper diet, under the guidance of your doctor.
Types of Iron
There is a common misconception that all iron is the same. However, iron is categorized into two groups: heme and non-heme. Plants, dairy, and eggs provide non-heme iron, while meat, fish, and seafood are rich in both heme and non-heme iron. Both types are needed for the body to function properly, but heme is more easily absorbed than non-heme. Because of this, vegetarians and vegans may not get enough iron from the foods they eat. Additionally, women who menstruate and regular blood donors are also more susceptible to have low iron levels in blood.
Non-heme doesn’t absorb well because it must first be altered by the digestive system in order for our bodies to be able to use it. This affects the iron’s bioavailability, which is the ease and effectiveness of a drug or mineral getting into your bloodstream. Non-heme has a lower bioavailability, so focusing on foods that carry this type of iron is important, especially if you eat a mostly plant-based diet.
How much iron per day should I be consuming?
Women between the ages of 19 and 50 should focus on getting at least 18 milligrams of iron each day, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It especially important for this age bracket because most still continue to menstruate and experience greater blood loss. However, once you reach menopause, it is recommended that you decrease your iron intake to eight milligrams per day. It is important to note that not everyone easily absorbs iron. If your levels are low and your body doesn’t easily absorb the mineral, look for “chelated” iron supplements, which are easier to absorb. Though iron supplements can cause stomach cramps and constipation, iron is best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach. Vitamin C also helps the absorption of iron, so taking vitamin C supplements or eating foods with high levels of vitamin C will help you absorb your recommended amount much easier when eating snacks with iron.
What does iron do for the body?
While supplements like vitamins D and C are crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system, iron produces hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells. These cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body. Iron also helps your body create myoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen to your muscles. According to the NIH, iron helps build connective tissues and hormones too. What a powerhouse!
Do I have anemia?
Talking to your doctor is the best step in figuring out if you have an iron deficiency or anemia. Common symptoms of low iron in women include extreme fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, brittle nails, damaged hair, and cold hands and feet. However, some women have no symptoms. Either way, your doctor can administer a blood test to find out where your iron levels stand. Your doctor may recommend a supplement, as well as certain foods that can help restore the amount that’s been depleted.
Best Foods for Low Iron Levels
While foods like grass-fed beef, chicken liver, and sardines are all rich sources of heme iron, they’re not always the most snackable or easy to take on the go. And if you’re a vegetarian, you’re out of luck! However, it’s easier to incorporate non-heme iron into your diet than you’d think. So what foods have iron in them? Foods like eggs, chocolate, nuts, seeds, and lentils are iron-rich and some of the most delicious snacks around. Our guide to the six best snacks for low iron will show you just how easy it is to incorporate iron-rich foods into your everyday life. Keep scrolling to see the best iron-rich foods for women you can easily sneak into your diet!
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chocolate iron rich
1. Chocolate has 13 milligrams of iron per bar.
Satisfy your sweet tooth and increase your iron levels with a few pieces of delicious chocolate. In addition to cardiovascular benefits, eating dark chocolate in small amounts can increase iron levels. This mouthwatering treat on average contains 13 milligrams of iron in one bar of chocolate.
Food For Iron Deficiency Treatment
Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegrantes
We’ll warn you ahead of time, these delectable Brookside chocolate pieces are highly addictive. The combination of dark chocolate with the superfood pomegranate, which contains antioxidants, is a hard one to beat.
Where to buy: $9.49, Amazon
Foods To Eat For Low Iron
Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Kind Bar
The mix of chocolate and cherry with nutty accents gives your protein bar a gourmet spin. It’s great to have something that tastes so good be good for you, too. Not only will these chocolate-laced KIND bars give you iron, but you'll get vitamins A, C, and E too.
Where to buy: $14.19, Amazon
Best Foods For Low Iron
Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolatey Dreams Peanut Butter
Sandwiches, ice cream sundaes, and bananas with peanut butter will taste even more indulgent with the addition of dark chocolate mixed into your PB spread. With each serving of Peanut Butter & Co's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, you’ll also be getting six grams of protein, which will help keep your energy up.
Where to buy: $7.56, Amazon
spinach iron rich foods to eat
2. Spinach and other leafy greens are good sources of non-heme iron.
Dark leafy greens, like spinach, are some of the best foods for iron deficiency because they can be easily incorporated into meals and snacks. Whether you add it to your breakfast smoothie or use it as the base of a fresh green salad, you’ll be receiving a ton of health benefits and nutrients, including iron. Pack a spinach quiche or a fruity summer salad in a stylish lunch bag to get your iron in before the end of the day. One cup of raw spinach has 0.8 milligrams of iron, and it happens to be a good source of the non-heme type.
Best Foods For Anemia
KOYAH Organic USA Grown Spinach Powder
If leafy greens aren’t at the top of your favorite foods list, this KOYAH whole-leaf spinach powder will help you get the benefits of spinach without having to eat a heaping salad with every meal. Mix it in a protein shake or breakfast smoothie to get the nutrients you need. Each tub is equal to 20 cups of spinach.
Where to buy: $23.74, Amazon
What Is Iron Good For
Pineapple Banana Kale Spinach Kind Bars
One of these pressed KIND bars will take you for a sweet trip to the tropics without leaving your home. On top of increasing your iron levels, you’ll also get a boost of potassium and vitamin C.
Where to buy: $20.99, Amazon
What Foods Have Iron In Them
365 Everyday Value, Organic Baby Spinach
Wilt a few cupfuls of this organic baby spinach and mix it in with pasta or chop it up and add it to an omelet. Spinach is undeniably versatile, and it’s easy to slip into most recipes. With Amazon Fresh, you won’t have to leave your house to get the spinach you need. You’ll receive it the same day or the next, and it will be fresh, cold, and ready to eat.
Where to buy: $4.99, Amazon
lentils iron rich foods to eat
3. Lentils pack a whopping 6.6 milligrams of iron per cup.
These versatile, protein-packed legumes serve well in many different recipes, from curries and soups to salads and pilafs. In a 100-gram serving of lentils, you can get 3.3 milligrams of iron, and 6.6 milligrams in one cup. Add them as your base for dinner bowls with vegetables and a touch of sweet chili sauce or use them in place of meat or beans in a flavorful chili.
Foods To Increase Iron
Westbrae Natural Organic Lentils
Westbrae Natural's canned lentils will ensure that you'll always have a healthful snack at the ready during those times when your fridge is more bare than you’d like. These lentils are ready to serve and don’t require soaking. They contain low sodium and high fiber, which will benefit anybody.
Where to buy: $25.42 for 12 cans, Amazon
Symptoms Of Low Iron In Women
The four types of lentils included in this Rawseed package all have different flavors and properties. Orange (or red) lentils tend to work well in purees; brown lentils have an earthy flavor and are a nice addition to bowls or salads; and French lentils stay firm, have a slight peppery flavor, and are great for veggie burgers. Black lentils have a rich flavor and can be used in any of the preparations already mentioned.
Where to buy: $19.99 for 4 pack, Amazon
Snacks High In Iron
Pride Of India Indian Bean & Lentil Superfood Jar
When you have a mix of beans and lentils, your protein, fiber, and iron intake go up. This superfood mix from Pride of India also makes for a perfect soup ingredient, just add some fresh vegetables and enjoy a healthy, scrumptious meal.
Where to buy: $10.44, Amazon
Oats iron rich
4. Oats are nutrient-rich and pack 7.4 milligrams of iron per cup.
From oatmeal cookies and fruit bars to overnight oats, the number of recipes you can create with this pantry staple is endless. In just one cup, you can get as much as 7.4 milligrams of iron, as well as other nutrients, including zinc, vitamin B, and phosphorous.
Low Iron Levels In Blood
Maker Overnight Oats, Apple & Coconut
Overnight oats may be trendy, but they make mornings on the go much easier. Mix rolled oats and milk before you go to bed. Refrigerate overnight, and breakfast is ready to eat when you wake up! This blend of apple and coconut from the company Maker is perfect for a delightfully sweet bowl of oats and gives you a good dose of iron and protein.
Where to buy: $11.87 for 5 pack, Amazon
Snacks For Low Iron
Bobo's Original Oat Bar
Finding protein bars that aren’t packed with additives or extra sugar can be tricky. These bars from Bobo's are balanced, healthy treats that are gluten-free and made in Boulder, CO. It’s hard to choose between all their flavors, but maple pecan is a classic you won’t be able to turn down.
Where to buy: $12.99 for 5 Amazon
What Is Iron
Betty Crocker Chewy Whole Grain Oat Bar Mix
You deserve to indulge in a dessert every now and then. These chewy chocolate chip bars from Betty Crocker are the ultimate treat for that cookie craving. They’re filling, delicious, and have another iron boost for you.
Where to buy: $29.19 for 8 pack, Amazon
5. Iron supplements are one of the quickest ways to get iron, hands down.
Okay, iron supplements aren't technically snacks, but their time-saving nature earns them an honorable mention. Eating foods rich in iron is important, but it can be hard to stay on top of it when our lives get busy. An iron supplement will get the job done in a few seconds, and then you’re set for the day. Iron supplements typical contain anywhere from 18 to 45 milligrams. (Vitamins and minerals are important for a healthy, functioning body, and our sister site’s helpful multivitamin guide can help you figure out which one is best for you.) Chelated iron is an option when looking at iron supplements. This term means that the iron will be more easily absorbed because of its availability to bond to other minerals in the body.
Signs Of Low Iron
Solgar Gentle Iron Supplements
If you have a sensitive tummy or tend to feel sick after taking vitamins, these capsules from Solgar are an ideal fix. They’re gentle on your stomach and make it possible to meet your daily requirements without the digestive issues that can come with taking an iron supplement. Each tablet contains 25 milligrams of iron bisglycinate, a chelated form of iron.
Where to buy: $32.22 for 2 pack, Amazon
Am I Anemic
New Chapter Every Woman's One Daily Multi
A multivitamin is a great way to cut back on the number of pills you have to take throughout the day. It’s packed with a high percentage of your daily value, and New Chapter's formula includes three milligrams of iron in the list of ingredients.
Where to buy: $37.88, Amazon
Iron In The Body
Slow Fe High Potency Iron Supplements
Slow-release tablets allow for iron to be dispersed throughout your body during the course of the day rather than all at once. SlowFe is another great option for people who experience sour stomach after taking vitamins or suffer from GI issues. There are 45 milligrams of iron in every tablet.
Where to buy: $34.99 for 2 pack, Amazon
Lack Of Iron Symptoms
Rainbow Light Complete Iron Mini-Tabs
These Complete Iron Mini Tabs from Rainbow Light are a completely food-based supplement dream. Vegans, vegetarians, and those who follow a gluten-free diet will also love getting 18 milligrams of iron per dose while still sticking to their diets. This also is a great option for those with sensitive stomachs. Plus, it's made without gluten, wheat, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, eggs, fish, or shellfish, so you can breathe easy if you have any of those allergies.
Where to buy: $14.75, Amazon
Nuts iron levels
6. Nuts and seeds are a super simple way to grab iron on the go.
There are many simple, yet delicious ways to incorporate nuts and seeds into your diet. Creating your own trail mix, adding a cup of walnuts to cookies, or mixing chia seeds into some oatmeal not only add flavor but also iron. The mineral is abundant in most types, just be sure to check the nutrition facts on the back of packages. Different types of nuts and seeds contain different amounts of iron, but the average amount ranges between 0.5 and 7.5 milligrams per serving.
Is Anemia Dangerous
Nuts 'N More Hazelnut Cocoa Spread
This cocoa hazelnut spread from Nuts n' More not only tastes melt-in-your-mouth phenomenal, but it’s packed with iron and protein. This Nutella upgrade can be spread on toast in the morning, slathered on a banana, or eaten it by the spoonful — we won’t tell.
Where to buy: $13.29, Amazon
Healthy Iron Levels
Second Nature Dark Chocolate Medley Trail Mix
Dark chocolate and nuts are one classic combo that will never go out of style. Sweet and salty, Second Nature's trail mix is a healthy treat that will be hard to put down. The snack-size packets are perfect for busy days traveling or lounging on the couch.
Where to buy: $59.90 for 12 pack, Amazon
What Is A Normal Iron Level For A Woman
Smokey Chipotle Whole Pumpkin Seeds
Stray from the plain salted nuts, and grab something that packs quite a bit of flavor and gives you some healthy perks. Gerb's smoky chipotle pumpkin seeds are a savory snack that will complement a sweet piece of fruit or mix well into a spicy trail mix. One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains 0.9 milligrams of iron.
Where to buy: $17.99, Amazon
Symptoms Of Anaemia In Females
Nuts 'N More Salted Caramel Peanut Spread
You won’t believe that this spread is healthy with all of its salted caramel-y goodness, but we promise it has plenty of protein and iron. Drizzle this delectable treat from Nuts n' More on top of some vanilla ice cream or make a plate of dessert nachos.
Where to buy: $11.39, Amazon
Low Ferritin Causes
Gourmet Nut POWER UP 100% All Natural Health Mix
Omega fatty acids are important for a wide array of functions, including fueling your brain and creating energy. Gourmet Nut's sweet and salty snack is a great source of omega 3s, so you can stay focused and keep your metabolism high, while still getting six percent of your iron intake for the day.
Where to buy: $10, Amazon
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