Are you Eating Enough Iron-Rich Foods?
Last updated: March 2019
When you’re living with endometriosis and experiencing excessive bleeding throughout the month, it may be helpful to talk with your doctor about your iron levels... especially if you’re experiencing fatigue.
Why is iron important?
Iron is a mineral in our red blood cells that carries oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. So, it’s kind of a big deal. It also helps to regulate body temperature, and improves both brain and muscle function. If your body is low in iron, the organs and tissues in your body are going to be low in oxygen.
The symptoms of iron deficiency
Low iron can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Depending upon the severity of it, one may experience:
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
A simple blood test can tell you your exact iron levels. So, again, if you’re experiencing heavy bleeds throughout the month, which lowers your iron levels, you may want to talk with your doctor about testing your levels.
Iron supplements versus iron-rich foods
Depending upon the results your doctor may recommend an iron supplement (which may cause constipation, so be sure to check out the foods to relieve constipation), or may simply encourage you to increase your iron-rich foods.
I personally like to choose the food option first and then if I need further support beyond that, then I’ll incorporate a supplement. I believe that food offers us the nutrients in the most easily digested and absorbed manner.
Where to find iron-rich foods
The good news is that iron-rich foods can be found in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets. As always, the key is finding the foods that work best for you and rotating the foods you have on a regular basis. (Varying up on your foods supports a healthy microbiome.)
For our plant-based friends, here are some iron-rich foods:
- Beans – especially black and navy beans
- Greens – especially collard greens and spinach
Some foods containing iron in the meat-based world include:
- Beef steak
- Egg yolks
How to increase your absorption
Enjoying foods high in vitamin C can aid in the absorption of the iron. So, give a squeeze of lemon on your sautéed spinach or add a slice of tomato to your grass-fed burger.
What has your experience with iron been?
Have you had low levels that you needed to increase? And did your efforts improve your symptoms? Let us know below!
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):