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Updated 15 April 2013

6 steps to increase iron absorption

The absorption of iron from iron-rich foods or iron supplements can be greatly improved when a few things are considered.

1

Iron deficiency is the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. This condition can cause symptoms of extreme fatigue and weakness; it can also lead to iron deficiency anaemia which may cause anxiety, depression, chest pain, infections and heart problems if left untreated. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately two billion people - about 30% of the world's population - are anaemic.

The body typically absorbs from iron-rich foods  (such as red meat, egg yolks, liver, spinach, beans and lentils) and iron supplements. It is important, however, to be aware that there are a number of factors (including some foods) that could greatly affect the body's ability to absorb iron.

Make sure your body absorbs enough iron by following these tips:

  • Avoid drinking tea or wine within one hour of taking iron supplements. The tannin in both these drinks can bind iron making it very hard to absorb. Phosphate in fizzy drinks can have the same effect.
  • Leave an hour between eating iron containing foods and drinking milk. One glass of milk (about 165mg calcium) can reduce iron absorption by more than half. The same applies to high calcium containing dairy foods, and supplements.
  • Phytates in raw cereal can also inhibit iron absorption, so leaving a one hour gap between cereal and iron supplements can be helpful.
  • Vitamin C assists iron absorption of most foods, so it's a good idea to drink some orange juice when taking iron supplements. If you can't tolerate orange juice try apple, mango or pineapple.
  • Avoid overcooking. You know the old saying: the more you boil the more you spoil.
  • Some drugs may inhibit iron absorption; and iron can, in turn, inhibit absorption of some other drugs. Here are a few examples:

    Drugs that may inhibit iron absorption:
    • Magnesium salts (oral)
    • Tetracyclines
    • Trientine
    • Zinc

    Drugs whose absorption can be inhibited by iron:
    • Bisphosphonates
    • Ciproflaxacin
    •  Entacapone
    • Levodopa
    • Penicillamine

Tips provided by Spatone. Spatone is a 100% natural liquid iron supplement which has been clinically proven not to cause any side effects such as constipation, nausea, headaches or a metallic after taste.

(Sources: www.who.orgwww.health24.com; www.spatone.com)

 
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