Best Foods And Supplements To Treat Iron Deficiency
Basically, heme-iron is what you get from many animal products and has great bioavailability. Plants and eggs offer the non heme-iron. And while plants usually contain more iron than meat, it is far less bioavailable.
So foods to be aware of are things like eggs. Just one boiled egg can impair iron absorption by 28%. Trying to get iron from eggs is like trying to get hydrated from drinking ocean water. Oxalates also make any mineral tough to absorb. Foods like kale, spinach, wheat bran, chocolate, nuts, tea, and spices like oregano, basil, and parsley contain high amounts of oxalates. Polyphenols that you get from coffee, apples, many berries, and peppermint are also a problem. And some of those oxalate foods I already listed also have polyphenols. Then there are phytates which are compounds found in soy protein and fiber. So be careful about the things you are consuming when taking iron. I’m not saying to cut out all these foods from your diet, some are healthy foods. It’s just the timing that’s important here. I wouldn’t eat any of this stuff within two hours of iron consumption.
So what can you eat with your iron supplement? Meats are going to be your best friend. Beef, poultry, salmon, and pork are all options. Consuming just 50 g of meat can lead to 2-4 times more iron absorption. And beef may be the best meat for enhancing iron bioavailability. Citrus fruits are also great. Or maybe your a big fan of orange juice like me.
So on to the more supplement based section. The best supplement to aid in iron absorption is vitamin C. Studies show that 100 milligrams of ascorbic acid can increase iron absorption from a specific meal by over 4 times. Our body wants to immediately oxidize iron supplements and produce toxic byproduct waste. The antioxidant protective vitamin c prevents this from happening, leading to better uptake. I don’t think you should ever supplement iron without vitamin C. Not only because of its help in bioavailability but it’s actually saving you butt from iron induced heart problems.
Vitamin A has also been shown to benefit iron absorption but only beta carotene, not the retinol form. And betaine HCL can also be of help to the breakdown of food in digestion. Most people with iron deficiencies have low levels of stomach acid further compounding the low iron problem.
Calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper supplements should not be taken within 2 hours of your iron supplement. These minerals share the same receptors in the body. Only about 800 mg in total can be handled. Just one calcium supplement at 300 mg has been shown to drastically impair iron uptake. And that not only applies to supplements but to dietary intake as well.
Like with many mineral supplements, be aware that some may still label their bottles with the total compound amount per serving while others state the elemental amount. Minerals are always bound to something else. 325 mg of ferrous sulfate does not mean you are getting 325 mg of iron. That is an absurd amount of iron to be taking if that were the case. You are likely getting about 65 mg of iron, which is still quite a bit. I wouldn’t recommend that form anyway, just an example to read the doses carefully. Most of the dosing recommendations you see for iron deficiency are based off of the poorly absorbed ferrous sulfate. So while they are telling you to take 100-200 mg of iron per day, you must adjust this when using a better iron supplement.
The best iron supplement in my book has to be the Ferrochel glycine bound chelated iron. This stuff has effectively twice the absorption ability than the ferrous sulfate I just mentioned. Numerous studies have confirmed it being safer and gentler than most others. And this form is also not affected by phytates. So that’s one less thing you need to worry about in your diet. The body can also better regulate this form of iron meaning that the more you need, the more you absorb. This, along with a liposomal vitamin C, and betaine hcl supplement is going to be the ultimate stack for correcting an iron deficiency.
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