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Are there other nutrients that enhance the absorption of iron?

You should know that there are two forms of iron: heme and non-heme. The former found primarily in plants but also in some meats and the latter found in animals. Our bodies have a harder time absorbing the heme type of iron, because of this; it is advisable to incorporate vitamin C rich foods whenever we are eating a source of iron. This is especially true if you are a vegan or vegetarian. Vitamin C helps the heme form of iron better absorb into our bodies.

Some foods that contain a high level of vitamin C are: sweet red bell peppers, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, mustard greens, papaya, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, cantaloupe, cabbage, tomatoes, raspberries, celery, spinach, pineapple, watermelon, tangerines, limes, cranberries, and guava.

These foods will aid in the absorption of iron. So, whenever you are a eating a particular food that you know contains iron, pair it with one of the above foods to enhance the absorption. For a quick meal you could make a smoothie of strawberries and an iron rich protein powder.

Also, you should know that some foods and nutrients are detrimental in the absorption of iron. Namely, foods with a high content of calcium that have to compete with iron to get absorbed into the body. This is why it is a good idea to take an iron supplement and a calcium supplement at least, I recommend, four hours of each other if not more.

Toddlers are a group that has a hard time getting enough iron. I know this personally because my two boys (3 & 2) have repeatedly been low on their iron count. After a couple months of pairing vitamin C rich foods with sources of iron, I am happy to report their iron content has gone up. I have also been cooking with a cast-iron skillet which, it has been reported, the food will pick up minimal traces of iron which boost the content in the food.
Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. A typical example of foods that provide optimal iron is chili with lean ground beef. The ground beef contains heme iron, and the tomato sauce contains vitamin C which enhances the non-heme iron in the other ingredients.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.