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Question
Posted by: Cindy | 2010/06/02

Mostly veg and Iron

Hi Im mostly vegetarian i do eat chicken and fish sometimes but more than 5 days a week im full vegetarian.
People tell me that im not getting enough iron and that i should start eating red meat i have given it up for over 10 years now and i dont think i can handle eating it, im fine with a bit of chicken and fish. I also dont eat a vry wide variety of veg, i eat cabbage,cauliflower, beans, peas lentils,mushrooms, but no broccoli or spinach also no pumpkin. Do vegetarians get little or no iron from the food we eat, will iron supplements help, pls advise what can i do, im getting very worried, esp if i had to start eating meat again. also does a lack of iron mean dark under eye circles which i have? Thank you

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Cindy
Vegetarians who do eat chicken and fish, plus eggs (?) should not develop an iron deficiency. The symptoms of iron deficiency are: extreme tiredness, constant yawning, breathlessness, inability to concentrate, dizziness and fainting spells, irritability - all caused by the fact that the blood is not able to transport as much oxygen to the tissues when a patient has iron-deficiency anaemia. If you have an aversion to red meat, then you can still obtain iron from the chicken and meat, and the lentils you eat. If you eat iron-fortified breakfast cereals in the morning, maize meal and wheat bread (all fortified with iron in SA), this will also boost your iron intake. Dark circles under the eyes do not indicate iron deficiency, but if you pull down your eyelid and the inside of the eyelid is very pale or white then you may well have an iron deficiency. The best way to determine if you do have an iron deficiency is to have a blood test done - ask your gp to arrange this. If you are iron deficient then you would need to take an iron supplement plus folic acid (e.g. FerroFolic) for 3 months or longer, because it takes a long time to replenish the iron stores of the body.
Best regards
DietDoc

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Our users say:
Posted by: DietDoc | 2010/06/02

Dear Cindy
Vegetarians who do eat chicken and fish, plus eggs (?) should not develop an iron deficiency. The symptoms of iron deficiency are: extreme tiredness, constant yawning, breathlessness, inability to concentrate, dizziness and fainting spells, irritability - all caused by the fact that the blood is not able to transport as much oxygen to the tissues when a patient has iron-deficiency anaemia. If you have an aversion to red meat, then you can still obtain iron from the chicken and meat, and the lentils you eat. If you eat iron-fortified breakfast cereals in the morning, maize meal and wheat bread (all fortified with iron in SA), this will also boost your iron intake. Dark circles under the eyes do not indicate iron deficiency, but if you pull down your eyelid and the inside of the eyelid is very pale or white then you may well have an iron deficiency. The best way to determine if you do have an iron deficiency is to have a blood test done - ask your gp to arrange this. If you are iron deficient then you would need to take an iron supplement plus folic acid (e.g. FerroFolic) for 3 months or longer, because it takes a long time to replenish the iron stores of the body.
Best regards
DietDoc

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