By Dr. Loreen Dawson, BSc ND
Last week, one of my patients asked me about non-meat sources of iron. Whenever her iron is low she feels tired, weak and looks a little pale. These are common symptoms of low iron. If iron gets really low you can even feel breathless and dizzy. Low iron is also a common cause of heavy periods, which causes more loss of iron - a vicious circle. Although sometimes you may need to supplement iron, regularly consuming iron rich foods is a good way to keep iron stores up. Red meat is a great source of iron, but, often patients ask about non-meat sources. You probably know that spinach is a good source of iron, but did you know that normal sized servings of tofu, chard, oatmeal, lentils and quinoa all provide as much, or more, iron per serving as spinach. Another easy way to increase iron levels is to cook in a cast iron pan, particularly when making things which are acidic, like tomato sauce.
Ensuring that your iron levels are optimal, and keeping them there by eating iron rich foods regularly helps you look and feel your best – energetic, strong, and with good colour in your cheeks. If you think your iron may be low, consider getting your ferritin level tested, and try adding iron rich foods into your diet more regularly for a few weeks to see how you feel. If eating more iron rich foods doesn’t help, please consider making an appointment so we can discuss your specific symptoms in detail and figure out a treatment plan to help get you on the road to recovery.
For a detailed list of vegetarian iron rich foods, including the mg of iron per serving, click this link