All You Need To Know About Iron Deficiency

How do our bodies absorb iron?

Absorption of the iron in the body is restricted, as the body cannot excrete iron except by epithelial shedding and menstruation. Iron has two forms in food heme and non-heme, and the body absorbs each variant differently.

Heme iron is found in animal sources only, such as red meat and liver. The body absorbs 20 to 30% of consumed heme. Non-heme is found in animal sources such as eggs and milk and all plant sources.Only 5-12% is absorbed from consumed non-heme iron. Iron plant sources also contain oxalic acid and tannic acid, which combine with iron and prevent its absorption. Our body absorbs heme better than non-heme, which explains why people with a restricted diet as in the case of vegans and vegetarians are more susceptible to iron deficiency.

Here are some tips to increase iron absorption:

  • Try to combine iron-rich food with Vitamin C rich food as it increases iron absorption. You can find vitamin C in a variety of food as berries, citrus fruits, bell pepper, and tomatoes.
  • Eat more animal products rich in heme iron as dark meat, mussels, and clams.
  • Try to cook leafy greens and vegetables as it helps break down oxalic acid and improve iron absorption.
  • Avoid drinking coffee and tea after meals as they contain tannic acid with interfering with iron absorption.
  • Eat small frequent meals and avoid large, heavy meals.
pale skin, iron deficiency