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Understanding Iron-Deficiency Anaemia

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Iron-deficiency anemia is a common type of anemia that occurs due to insufficient iron levels in the body. Proper nutrition plays a crucial role in the management and treatment of iron-deficiency anemia. The following information provides an overview of the recommended dietary practices related to nutrition in iron-deficiency anemia.

Iron-Rich Foods:

Consuming iron-rich foods is essential to increase iron levels in the body. Animal sources are considered as high biological value iron, and are better absorbed by the body. Plant sources of iron are poorly absorbed – one should try and focus on improving absorption with plant-based meals.

Good dietary sources of iron include:

  • Red meat (beef, lamb, and liver)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Fish (especially shellfish and sardines)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas)
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale)
  • Fortified cereals and bread
  • Nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds)

Enhancing Iron Absorption:

Iron absorption can be enhanced by combining iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps convert iron into a more absorbable form. Try to add a food high in vitamin C with every iron-rich meal.

Some sources of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruits)
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Watermelon
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Fortified cereal

Avoiding Inhibitors of Iron Absorption:

Certain substances can inhibit iron absorption and should be avoided or minimized when managing iron-deficiency anemia. Give at least an hour after consuming an iron-real meal before consuming these inhibitors.

These include:

  • Tea and coffee (contain tannins)
  • Calcium-rich foods (milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • High-fiber foods (bran, whole grains)


In some cases, iron supplementation may be necessary to address severe iron deficiency. It is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for proper dosage and guidance regarding iron supplementation.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian who can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your specific condition and needs.

  • Galloway R, et al. Impact of oral iron supplementation on cognition in older children and adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2019;77(11):821-839.
  • Simeon DT, et al. Iron status and functional consequences of iron deficiency in pregnant women and young children. Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol. 2010;2010:1-8.
  • Beard J, et al. Iron deficiency alters brain development and functioning. J Nutr. 2003;133(5 Suppl 1):1468S-1472S.
  • Thakur D, et al. Iron deficiency anemia in children. Indian J Pediatr. 2020;87(4):284-289.
    Zimmermann MB, et al. Iron-deficiency anemia. Lancet. 2019;393(10170): 10172-10173.

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