Making sure your diet is rich in iron

Vitamin C helps your body to absorb more iron from your food - especially when you combine it with vegetable foods containing iron. Therefore, it is wise to include a food containing Vitamin C with your meals e.g.

* Fortified breakfast cereal with milk and a glass of fruit juice
* Sardine sandwich, followed by an orange

N.B. Drinking tea with your meal will reduce the amount of iron absorbed, so it is best to avoid it. Instead, have a Vitamin C-rich drink such as fruit juice, or fortified squashes. Also, if you are taking iron supplements it is important not to drink milk, or eat a milk-based product (e.g. milk puddings), for one hour before or after taking the tablets. This is because milk can interfere with the action of the the tablet. Iron is available from both the food groups shown below, but is more easily absorbed from animal foods.

Animal Foods Rich in Iron

Eggs - especially the yolk
Oily fish e.g. tuna, sardines, pilchards, cockles and mussels
Kidney, liver, heart **
Lamb, game, beef **
Black pudding, corned beef, faggots **
Oxo, Bovril **

** Mothers 35 Plus cannot advise on the safety aspect of eating of any of the above animal products, which may be linked to the human form of BSE. Their mention here does not imply that we endorse their consumption.

Vegetable Foods Rich in Iron

Wholemeal bread and flour
Iron-fortified cereals - Bran, Branflakes, Weetabix
Beans and pulses e.g. lentils, chick peas, haricot, kidney, pinto, baked, butter, peas
Nuts - almonds, cashews, Brazils, walnuts
Dried fruit - apricots, figs, dates
Green vegetables - watercress, spinach
Rich fruit cake, gingerbread, ginger biscuits
Curry powder
Cocoa, chocolate, black treacle

If you have increased iron needs due to pregnancy, menstruation, or endurance training, you may want to incorporate an iron supplement into your diet; in addition to the above iron rich foods. Iron supplements are an easy, vegetarian way to guard against iron deficiency.


<< Back to information on folic acid