What to Eat, Drink and Avoid for Iron Deficiency Anemia

What to Eat, Drink and Avoid for Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency anemia is a medical term discovered by Karl Vierordt and his student H. Welcher in 1852. Anemia means your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells and it is caused due to iron deficiency. Let’s find out what to eat and what to avoid when you experience iron deficiency anemia.

What is Iron Deficiency Anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most usual types of anemia. It is a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Iron deficiency anemia is caused because of inadequate iron.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

In the primary stage, iron deficiency anemia may feel mild. So, many people tend to ignore the symptoms. But when the body becomes more deficient in iron and anemia worsens, the signs and symptoms are as follows:

-Extreme fatigue


-Pale skin

-Chest pain or shortness of breath

-Headache, dizziness, or sometimes lightheadedness

-Cold hands and feet

-Soreness of your tongue

-Brittle nails

-Abnormal cravings for non-nutritive substances; ice, dirt, and starch

-Infants and children feel poor appetite.

The best food and drinks to avoid Iron Deficiency Anemia

When you have anemia, you need to take foods rich in iron and other vitamins essential to hemoglobin and red blood cell production. Add the following foods to your diet so that you can get more iron to fight iron deficiency anemia:

Leafy greens

Leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, and green vegetables are the best sources of iron. Dark, leafy greens are also high in oxalates that can bind with iron and prevent the absorption of nonheme iron.

You also need Vitamin C which can help your stomach absorb iron. So, when you experience iron deficiency anemia, it is recomemded to take leafy greens with foods that contain vitamin C including oranges, red peppers, and strawberries.

Meat and poultry

All meat, especially poultry contains heme iron. Red meat and lamb are the best sources of iron. If you can take meat or poultry along with iron-containing foods like leafy greens and vitamin C-rich fruit, your body can increase iron absorption.


The liver is an excellent source of iron. It’s also rich in folate. You can do some other iron-rich organ meats like heart, kidney, and beef tongue.


Some seafood like oysters, clams, crabs, and shrimp are good sources of heme iron.

Fortified foods

Certain foods such as orange juice, ready-to-eat cereals, white bread, pasta, cornmeal, white rice, etc are fortified with iron. You can add these foods to your diet if you struggle to eat other sources of iron.


Beans including kidney beans, chickpeas, soybeans, black-eyed peas, and peas are great sources of iron. They are handy, cheap, and versatile.

Nuts and seeds

Different types of nuts and seeds are enriched with iron. They are pumpkin seeds, cashews, pistachios, hemp seeds, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds. You will get similar amounts of iron from both raw and roasted nuts.


Eggs are known not only for their proteins but for having a high level of iron also. You can take eggs regularly to meet up the gap in iron deficiency.

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses are loaded with iron and nutritional powerhouse because they have calcium, Vitamin B6, selenium, and magnesium. They are perfect for anemic patients because apart from providing the iron they desperately need, blackstrap molasses also keep them healthy due to the presence of other integral nutrients.

Rich Drinks to Boost Your Hemoglobin

Beetroot Juice

Beetroot contains various potential nutrients such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron, betaine, and vitamin C. The juice is also great for the removal of toxins from the liver and improves the oxygen usage of our red blood cells.

Spinach, Cashew, Coconut, and Raspberry Smoothie

Smoothies prepared from spinach, cashew, raspberry, and coconut are a delicious way to get more iron in your diet as you get plant-based iron from these foods.

Pumpkin Juice

Pumpkin is a storehouse of antioxidants and minerals that improve your overall health. Besides, pumpkin seeds are great sources of iron. So, you can take a pumpkin smoothie to fulfill your iron deficiency.

Flaxseed and Sesame Smoothie

Regular consumption of flaxseeds offers multiple health advantages. Flax seeds are high in iron and help produce hemoglobin. Sesame seeds also have huge iron.

Worst food and drinks for Iron Deficiency Anemia

A diet plan enriched in iron is perfect and essential for an anemia patient. However, one needs to be aware also of some worse food that can boost anemia. Check here the list of worst foods that can increase the risk of Iron Deficiency Anemia.

Calcium-Rich Foods

Calcium-rich foods are recommended to avoid for anemia patients because calcium doesn’t help your body absorb iron. And so, calcium-rich foods worsen your anemia symptoms. Foods rich in calcium are dairy products including milk, cheese, and yogurt. Some fruits such as bananas, and nuts are calcium-rich foods.

Tannins Rich Foods

Food rich in tannins is also prohibited food for anemia patients. Anemia patients must try to avoid tannin-rich foods as tannin wards off the proper absorption of iron in the body. Tannin-rich foods include corn, grapes, black tea, coffee, and tea.

Phytate Rich Foods

The third type of foods anemia patients need to avoid is phytate-rich foods because phytate ties up to iron in your digestive tract and makes it tough to get absorbed. You should not take phytate-rich foods including brown rice, legumes, nuts, and whole-grain wheat.

Oxalic Acid Rich Foods

You have to skip oxalic acid-rich food items if you are anemic because oxalic acid may hamper the absorption of iron from the body. Oxalic acid-rich foods are peanuts, chocolates, and parsley.

Polyphenol Rich Foods

You need to avoid polyphenol-rich foods for the reason of obstruction in the absorption of iron. Foods such as cocoa, coffee, spices, walnuts, and apples are rich in polyphenols. These foods obstruct iron absorption in the body.

Alcohol and Caffeinated Beverages

Remember, your anemia symptoms can worsen if you take alcohol and caffeinated beverages. Taking huge amounts of alcohol may make you iron deficient.

Gluten Foods

You are recommended to avoid gluten-rich foods if you are suffering from anemia and if you are gluten allergic. Gluten allergic body cannot accept gluten and therefore damages the intestinal wall and prevents it from absorbing iron and folic acid also. So, avoid gluten-rich foods including barley, wheat, oats, and rye.

Certain Medications

Certain medications may interfere with the body’s mechanism to absorb iron. Therefore, consult with the doctor before taking penicillin, Dapsone, Levodopa, Cephalosporins, and Nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs if you are anemic.

The Bottom Line

Knowledge of best and worst foods and drinks for iron deficiency anemia can help improve your anemic condition remarkably. Besides, do not try to leave this deficiency disease untreated as it may turn into a life-long ailment making you feel weak and dizzy all the time. Consult a doctor if you do not find any improvement despite changing your diet and adding iron supplements.

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