Foods High In Iron For Anemia

Bump Up Your Energy With These Foods

Foods high in iron

Anemia is the most common blood disorder. Women are about twice as likely to be anemic as men. Especially if you are pregnant or premenopausal. But, there are foods high in iron for anemia and supplements that can help rid you of the issue.


What is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is an important part of red blood cells and binds oxygen and transports it to every cell and tissue in the body.

If you don't have enough red blood cells, or they are abnormal… Or you don't have enough hemoglobin, the cells in your body will not get adequate oxygen which can cause various symptoms.

Symptoms of Anemia

Anemia can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Similarly, it can also make other conditions worse. If your anemia is mild, then it may not cause noticeable symptoms.

Mild Symptoms Include:

  • Fatigue
  • Decreased energy
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness
  • Palpitations
  • Looking pale
  • Change in stool color
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin yellowing
  • Spleen enlargement

Severe Symptoms Include:

  • Chest pain, angina, or heart attack
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting or passing out
  • Rapid heart rate

Causes of Anemia

Anemia occurs when your blood doesn't have enough red blood cells.foods high in iron

This may occur if:

  • Your body doesn't make enough red blood cells
  • Bleeding causes you to  lose red blood cells at a greater rate than they can be made
  • Your body harms red blood cells

There are different types of Anemia:

Iron deficiency anemia – This is the most common type of anemia. It's caused by a lack of iron in your body. Your bone marrow requires iron to make hemoglobin.

Vitamin deficiency anemia – Your body also needs folate and vitamin B-12 to create healthy red blood cells. In this form of anemia, either you're not getting enough of these vitamins, or your body can't use the vitamins properly.

Aplastic anemia – This is dangerous anemia that occurs when your body doesn't make enough red blood cells. Aplastic anemia can be caused by infections, medications, autoimmune diseases, and exposure to toxic chemicals.

There are other forms of anemia, but they are too numerous to go into in this short article.

foods high in iron

The Effects of Anemia

Early symptoms of anemia are fatigue and reduced ability to work. However, anemia is also associated with an increased risk of mortality and cognitive impairment.

Maternal anemia is associated with 20% of maternal deaths. Anemic mothers are at greater risk of delivering premature and low-birth-weight babies.

Children younger than two years of age with severe anemia are at increased risk of mortality. Children with anemia are also at risk of suffering from cognitive deficits.

Treatments For Anemia

Anemia treatment varies, depending on its cause.

Iron deficiency anemia

Treatment for this form of anemia usually involves making changes to your diet as well as taking an iron supplement.

Vitamin deficiency anemia

Treatment for this form of anemia also involves dietary supplements and increasing the nutrients in your diet.

Aplastic anemia

Treatment for this form of the illness may include blood transfusions to raise levels of red blood cells. You may require a bone marrow transplant if your bone marrow is diseased.

Foods High In Iron

foods high in iron

The iron in food comes from two sources, animals and plants.

Iron from animal sources is called heme iron.
Iron that comes from plants is called nonheme iron.

Heme iron is better absorbed by the body than nonheme iron.

Good Sources of Heme Iron

Chicken liver
Clams & Mussels
Beef Liver
Turkey leg
Leg of lamb

foods high in iron*Best from organically raised sources

Good Sources of Non-Heme Iron

Dark leafy greens
Beets and beet greens
Rice bran
Beans (kidney, pinto best)
Black strap Molasses
Wheat germ
Whole wheat bread
Peanut butter
Brown rice
Prune juice
Dark chocolate
Sesame & Pumpkin seeds

Other Recommendations

Also, eat foods high in vitamin C to enhance iron absorption.

Avoid beer, sugar, dairy products, ice cream, coffee, tea and soft drinks because they interfere with iron absorption.

Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.

Do not take calcium, vitamin E, zinc or antacids at the same time as iron supplements. These can interfere with iron absorption.

Vegetarians and Iron Intake

People give up eating meat and animal products for various reasons. If you eliminate meat, then you may get an iron deficiency. If you give up all animal products, then you may get anemia that is caused by vitamin B-12 deficiency.

No matter if you are a vegetarian or not, it may be difficult to get the nutrients you need from your diet alone. Foods high in iron for anemia are important to include in your diet, but they may not be enough for you by themselves, so it may be necessary to supplement.

If you find you need to supplement to get the nutrients you need… I've had great success and recommend MegaFood Blood Builder. Even if you don't have anemia, Megafood can help you with iron deficiencies or provide the boost necessary for you to feel good and healthy. It's easy to digest and doesn't cause constipation. I've linked to them below for your convenience.

Please promise me one more thing… You won't hesitate to ask me questions in the comment area below. I'm here to help you out and I would love nothing more than for you to be the healthiest version of yourself possible. Let me know if you need anything and I will be sure to get back within “hours” most of the time.

I look forward to helping you!
foods high in iron
Pin It

Quick Start Guide to
Healthy Cooking
5 Lessons on How to Cook Great Tasting, Healthy Meals for Yourself &
Your Family
Featured Image

Written by Jackie Parker


Leave a Reply
  1. I like the fact that you have mentioned the food we must eat, I have been lazy to do research on the food that I must eat, I think I must eat that peanut butter in kitchen and broccoli,lemons and prune juice,I have these foods in my house yet I never eat them. I even have 100% lemon juice,is it as effective as lemons or should I get the lemons?

  2. I like the fact that you have mentioned the food we must eat, I have been lazy to do research on the food that I must eat, I think I must eat that peanut butter in kitchen and broccoli,lemons and prune juice,I have these foods in my house yet I never eat them. I even have 100% lemon juice,is it as effective as lemons or should I get the lemons?

  3. I love this article! I am a Home Health PT and constantly educate my patients about iron and anemia. I explain anemia like tug boats. Oxygen represents the LARGE ships that have to have a tug boat to access the port. It does not matter how deeply, often, or high quality oxygen you breath-without iron (the tug boat)-your body (the port where oxygen is needed, consumed, and use) will have the signs/symptoms of low oxygenation. In other words, oxygen HAS TO HAVE iron to bind to so the body can use it. Having a list of iron rich foids is AWESOME. Thank you for sharing.

    • Shawna! I love your analogy! I was severely anemic when I was younger and wish someone would have explained it to me this way… Perhaps it would have registered! 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  4. Hi Jackie,

    That was a really interesting read. Aplastic Anemia sounds like a very nasty thing to live with. It is also truly shocking that this causes 20% of maternal deaths and so few people have heard of it.

    I think that you did a great job in raising awareness about symptoms and possible treatments for the disease.

    It was also of particular interest to me because I am interested in the use of supplements/vitamins to treat a wide range of ailments and I definitely felt like I learned something from this article.

    Thank You

    • Hi Mark, I was anemic in my twenties until I learned how to remedy it via foods and supplements, so I have a natural interest. Thanks for connecting and saying hi. 🙂

  5. Hi Jackie,

    great site and an awesome very detailed and informative article, thanks for sharing it with us – really appreciated.

    Being anemic is no fun at all, often feeling drained of energy and often left out of fun event with friends or having to cancel them can really get me down.

    As food sources and healthy choices, would you consider grass fed and organic livestock to be more beneficial in terms of iron content than “factory farmed” livestock for our consumption?

    • Hi Derek,

      My sense is that organic meets have higher nutrient quality, so they are my preference. They’re more expensive, but (in my opinion) worth it.

  6. Hi Jackie,
    It’s me again 🙂 I love this page so much! Especially the list with sources of Iron.
    When I was a kid my mom took me to check my blood picture. It was very low when we talk about Iron. My mom was giving me one fresh egg for 10 days every morning (she would only add a little sugar in it). For lunch I would eat a soup cooked on a beef leg. I loved it and my doctor loved results and was very surprised too.

    And I love your article 🙂 And love your testimony on how the Amazon’s links work. You really deserve to be paid for what you do, for sharing your experience and knowledge!


  7. Hi Jackie, love the anemia article. I’m 59 and I have severe anemia. It’s landed me in the hospital with blood transfusions and k lol after iron infusions on 2 separate occasions. I feel like my body just doesn’t absorb iron. My last bloodwork is low but not at infusion level yet. Any other suggestions on how to absorb iron better?

    • Hi Sandra, Thanks for reaching out. Have you tried eating more foods high in vitamin C? or supplementing? It’s the acids that chelate iron to make it more easily absorbed. Iron absorption is reduced by tannins in tea and coffee, so don’t drink either after a meal. Foods that are high in oxalic acid (spinach, chard, etc.,) and chocolate are known to bind to iron, so reduce or eliminate. Also, eating fermented foods and cooking greens in an iron skillet can help enhance absorption. There are some Ayurvedic herbs that can help too. If it were me, I would take Triphala, Cumin seed or cumin tea, Anise tea, mint tea, licorice tea are all advised.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.