Six steps to increase iron absorption

2017-06-28 06:00
Taking iron supplements with a glass of orange juice will increase absorption.PHOTO: sourced

Taking iron supplements with a glass of orange juice will increase absorption.PHOTO: sourced

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THE absorption of iron from iron-rich foods or iron supplements can be greatly improved when a few things are considered.

Iron deficiency (anemia) is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. This condition can cause symptoms of extreme fatigue and weakness. It can also lead to iron deficiency anaemia which may cause anxiety, depression, chest pain, infections and heart problems if left untreated. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately two billion people - about 30% of the world’s population - are anaemic.

The body typically absorbs from iron-rich foods (red meat, egg yolks, liver, spinach, beans and lentils) and iron supplements.

It is important, however, to be aware that there are a number of factors, including some foods, that could greatly affect the body’s ability to absorb iron.


• Avoid drinking tea or wine within one hour of taking iron supplements. The tannin in both these drinks can bind iron making it hard to absorb. Phosphate in fizzy drinks can have the same effect.

• Leave an hour between eating iron-containing food and drinking milk. One glass of milk (about 165mg calcium) can reduce iron absorption by more than half. The same applies to high calcium containing dairy foods, and supplements.

Phytates in raw cereal can also inhibit iron absorption, so leaving a one-hour gap between cereal and iron supplements can be helpful.

• Vitamin C assists iron absorption of most foods, so it’s a good idea to drink orange juice when taking iron supplements. If you can’t tolerate orange juice try apple, mango or pineapple.

• Avoid overcooking. You know the old saying - the more you boil the more you spoil. - Health24.


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