3

votes

Help me make a very iron rich meal plan?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 16, 2012 at 6:11 PM

I've been battling iron deficiency anemia for the last three months now. My doctor has me on iron supplements (I was even getting iron shots for a while), but we both feel like I would benefit greatly from a diet overhaul to maximize my iron absorption. Luckily, Paleo seems to lend itself very well to this process, but I need some help figuring out exactly what to include and want to remove.

I currently eat grass fed beef about 2-3 times a week. The rest of my meat consumption comes from fish and lamb. I'd like to up my beef/lamb intake to almost daily if I can and throw in a couple of servings of liver every week (I have about five pounds of grass fed beef liver in the freezer, so that should last me a little while). I want to get as much heme iron into my diet as possible. What else should I add? Is bone broth a good source? How about eggs?

I'm most stuck on how I should handle vegetables and produce. I've heard so many conflicting things about spinach, broccoli, and dried fruits. What should I include or stay away from? I really enjoy salads and fresh fruit, but if they're blocking my iron absorption, then I can get rid of them. I function very well on medium-high carb, so I'd like to keep my sweet potatoes if they're not causing any problems.

I do consume dairy and I know calcium inhibits iron absorption, so as much as it pains me, I'll probably be cutting that out as well.

Thanks in advance for the help!

9426eec8c8385c90bdf843aa44bd5a4b

(200)

on July 17, 2012
at 05:37 PM

If you're female, heavy menses can also contribute to anemia. Getting your hormones in check can help prevent the blood loss. Many times the person is low in progesterone. More organic way to go about it is to eat Spinach. I have found that eating spinach for dinner every day makes my cycle normal instead of heavy. It's just food for thought. I've sure both men and women would benefit from it.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 11:03 PM

I quit the pill after about six years of off and on use this past January. It's pretty devastating to think about all of the damage that may have caused. Thank you very much for the link!

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 11:02 PM

Great idea, thank you!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 16, 2012
at 07:04 PM

I've taken Thorne Ferrasorb when my iron gets low with good results.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on July 16, 2012
at 07:03 PM

All good below, and for a less commonly mentioned source - CLAMS 3 oz will give you 23.8mg of iron, almost 5 times the amount in beef liver.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 16, 2012
at 07:00 PM

Just checked, chicken liver is actually higher in iron than beef liver, I would have guessed the reverse. That is awesome, chicken liver is easier to cook and less expensive, just saute it in butter (do not overcook), and it is a treat straight out of the pan.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:38 PM

If you're not loving the ferrous gluconate because of the GI trouble, then I must disappoint -- it won't be appreciably better on the glycine-sulfate. But for me, at least, it is better absorbed, and I do notice the difference in how I feel.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:37 PM

If you're not loving the ferrous gluconate because of the GI trouble, then I must disappoint -- it won't be appreciably better on the glycine-sulfate. But for me, at least, it is better absorbed, and I do notice the difference in how I feel.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:36 PM

Giving up my coffee has been so hard, but I feel 10 times better when I don't have it, so I'm definitely making an effort.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:34 PM

Phenomenal info, thank you! That's all the motivation I needed to get rid of the dairy. My supplement IS ferrous gluconate and includes vitamin C, folic acid, and B12...I'll definitely look into a ferrous glycine-sulfate one since I'm not loving this one at all.

Bf2291448a06d573f0fdc87cd514e512

(519)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:33 PM

Drink coffee/tea at least an hour before your breakfast. http://www.ajcn.org/content/37/3/416

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:31 PM

This may be a dumb question, but is there any difference between chicken liver and beef liver when it comes to iron content? And I welcome any excuse to include more chili in my diet. ;) Thanks for the advice!

  • 4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

    asked by

    (1239)
  • Views
    16.1K
  • Last Activity
    1286D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

6 Answers

6
121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

on July 16, 2012
at 06:28 PM

Hi Jaych,

Dumping the dairy is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your iron absorption. Not only does calcium inhibit it, but the apo-lactoferrin in the dairy strongly binds iron -- if any of it is unsaturated, it will mop up any free iron it comes into contact with.

As someone who suffered a stealth iron deficiency for years, I can tell you that the impact of calcium is underestimated. I think it even impacts iron metabolism -- I am still on iron replacement and expect to be so for the foreseeable future, and I always feel worse whenever I eat anything with significant calcium content. (You'd think I'd learn -- it happens every time.)

Salads can be a source of iron, if they are eaten with catalysts. Those are acids (like a nice, sour vinaigrette) and -- perhaps surprisingly -- heme iron. Eating a salad with your meat will mean you take up the iron in the salad better.

Spinach is also an excellent source. The same caveats about catalysts apply. Eggs too -- though while they contain iron, egg protein is also used to bind iron in the treatment of iron overdose.

Crucifers -- like broccoli -- can be problematic, perhaps because of their calcium content, which is higher than most other vegetables.

The sweet potatoes are not a problem. Eat away.

Are you taking vitamin C with your iron supplement? What kind of iron supplement are you using? I have -- unfortunately -- not had good results with ferrous gluconate, and am now taking ferrous glycine-sulfate instead.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:34 PM

Phenomenal info, thank you! That's all the motivation I needed to get rid of the dairy. My supplement IS ferrous gluconate and includes vitamin C, folic acid, and B12...I'll definitely look into a ferrous glycine-sulfate one since I'm not loving this one at all.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 16, 2012
at 07:04 PM

I've taken Thorne Ferrasorb when my iron gets low with good results.

6
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:22 PM

Liver, liver, liver. Add it 2-3 times per week.

Work more ground red meat into things, chili is one of my faves for that.

More vitamin C, citrus, supplements, whatever, just get more because it increases your absorption of the iron.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 16, 2012
at 07:00 PM

Just checked, chicken liver is actually higher in iron than beef liver, I would have guessed the reverse. That is awesome, chicken liver is easier to cook and less expensive, just saute it in butter (do not overcook), and it is a treat straight out of the pan.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:31 PM

This may be a dumb question, but is there any difference between chicken liver and beef liver when it comes to iron content? And I welcome any excuse to include more chili in my diet. ;) Thanks for the advice!

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:37 PM

If you're not loving the ferrous gluconate because of the GI trouble, then I must disappoint -- it won't be appreciably better on the glycine-sulfate. But for me, at least, it is better absorbed, and I do notice the difference in how I feel.

3
F9013a3c7944d40c983e955f3cc83627

on July 16, 2012
at 06:28 PM

Vary your sources for the most absorption. So def eat grass-fed beef, liver, and other sources of protein. But eat plenty of dandelion greens, nettles, parsley (fresh), kelp, watercress. Those are all some less usual sources of it beyond kale, and other leafy greens. Things that will deplete your iron in addition to not adequately taking in your protein is coffee and black teas and enemas. :/

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 06:36 PM

Giving up my coffee has been so hard, but I feel 10 times better when I don't have it, so I'm definitely making an effort.

2
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on July 16, 2012
at 07:42 PM

If you're female, years of birth control use and for any gender, gut bacteria imbalances can cause anemia. There's a small section addressing this in the GAPS book by Natasha Campbell-Mcbride. You may need a lot more than just iron. Liver is great because the B vitamins and fat soluables are often deficient as well, and it will be a good, cheap source of it. Heal your gut with lots of probiotic rich fermented vegetables, water kefir, and a good quality probiotic like Garden of Life or Biokult and go on a low complex carbohydrate diet. Small amounts of fruit or things like squash or any non-starchy veggie are ok but any starches are going to feed the pathogenic bacteria that are causing your deficiency. Also, I second the suggestion to dump dairy besides clarified butter/ghee.

here's a small paragraph about it from her website (link provided) but it goes in to more depth in her book

"The majority of children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions look pale and pasty. When tested they show various stages of anaemia, which is not surprising. To have a healthy blood we require many different nutrients: vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, K, A, D, etc), minerals (Fe, Ca, Mg, Zn, Co, Se, boron, etc.), essential amino-acids and fats. These patients not only cannot absorb these nutrients from food, but their own production of many of them in the body is damaged. On top of that people with damaged gut flora often have particular groups of pathogenic bacteria growing in their gut, which are iron-loving bacteria (Actinomyces spp., Mycobacterium spp., pathogenic strains of E.Coli, Corynebacterium spp. and many others). They consume whatever iron the person gets from the diet, leaving that person deficient in iron. Unfortunately, supplementing iron only makes these bacteria grow stronger and does not remedy anaemia. To treat anaemia the person requires all the nutrients we have mentioned, many of which healthy gut flora supplies."

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 11:03 PM

I quit the pill after about six years of off and on use this past January. It's pretty devastating to think about all of the damage that may have caused. Thank you very much for the link!

9426eec8c8385c90bdf843aa44bd5a4b

(200)

on July 17, 2012
at 05:37 PM

If you're female, heavy menses can also contribute to anemia. Getting your hormones in check can help prevent the blood loss. Many times the person is low in progesterone. More organic way to go about it is to eat Spinach. I have found that eating spinach for dinner every day makes my cycle normal instead of heavy. It's just food for thought. I've sure both men and women would benefit from it.

2
Cc3ce03985eac5ebcbb95fc2329f13b0

on July 16, 2012
at 06:58 PM

Make sure you cook in cast iron. Get some fry pans, some big pots, and read up on proper care.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cast_iron_cookware#Health_effects

You can google other sources for the benefits.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on July 16, 2012
at 11:02 PM

Great idea, thank you!

0
96d0f148db40114c8e27f130bbbfae18

on February 12, 2014
at 08:21 PM

Blood sausage!

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!