Typical symptoms you may be experiencing if you have anemia are:
- Feeling tired and/or weak
- Experiencing dizziness, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Having headaches or trouble concentrating
So if you have anemia, you’re probably going to take an iron supplement or increase your consumption of iron-rich foods.
The irony (pun intended) is that some of the foods you may eat to increase your iron have other compounds that reduce how much iron gets absorbed into your body.
Some fish and figs … are important sources of iron but also contain calcium. It seems that ingesting certain levels of calcium may reduce iron absorption significantly. The solution: Limit your intake of really calcium-rich foods (like milk, cheese, yogurt), especially when you are having an iron-rich meal (like a good piece of steak with a spinach salad!)
Oh … and meats, fish, poultry, whole grains, nuts and dairy (already discussed) … these are your go-to’s for iron-rich foods, but they contain phosphorus, which also affects absorption. There is no doubt that you need to include these in your diet if you have anemia, though. The solution: Eat or drink something rich in Vitamin C (like a big glass of orange juice), which helps to boost iron absorption.
It’s all about balance. The best thing to do is to talk to your doctor if you think you have or have been diagnosed with anemia. Most importantly, he or she will want to make sure the underlying cause of your anemia is addressed in order to treat you properly.
For example, anemia can be caused by chronic kidney disease … which can result from diabetes. So before launching into a self-prescribed iron-laden diet, it’s best to work with someone who can ensure your diet will meet the needs of all the symptoms in your body.