Iron deficiency anemia (IDA), the most prevalent anemia worldwide, has a significant impact on human health.1 Therefore diets should be improved by including iron-rich foods and by altering meal patterns.2
Iron-rich foods include non-vegetarian foods, like meat and organs from cattle, fish and poultry and vegetarian foods, like green leafy vegetables and legumes.3 However, it is not enough to consume iron-rich foods. There are certain dietary factors that either inhibit (calcium, cereals, tea and coffee) or enhance iron absorption (vitamin C).4,5 You may consume the necessary amount of iron but if it is eaten along with inhibitory factors, the total iron absorption will be insufficient. So, whenever you plan a meal with iron-rich foods, it is also important to know about the inhibitors and enhancers.
Recommendations of some changes to the meal pattern to optimize iron intake.3
one or two hours after a meal.
Additionally, cooking in iron-pots increases the iron content of the food.3 Sprouting legumes or fermenting foods helps better iron absorption.2
It is possible to boost iron levels by diet management. Let’s combat IDA by knowing what to eat and when to eat!
1 Miller JL. Iron deficiency anemia: a common and curable disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2013;3(7):a011866. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a011866.
2 Iron Deficiency Anemia. Assessment, Prevention, and Control. A Guide for Programme Managers. World Health Organisation; 2001.
3 da Silva Lopes K, Takemoto Y, Garcia‐Casal MN, Ota E. Nutrition‐specific interventions for preventing and controlling anaemia throughout the life cycle: an overview of systematic reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;2018(8):CD013092. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013092.
4 Lynch SR. The effect of calcium on iron absorption. Nutr Res Rev. 2000;13(2):141-158. doi:10.1079/095442200108729043.
5 Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H. Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Int Zeitschrift fur Vitamin- und Ernahrungsforschung J Int Vitaminol Nutr. 2004;74(6):403-419. doi:10.1024/0300-98220.127.116.113.