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Causes of anemia can be extremely varied, but the one thing someone needing more iron in their diet asks is, “How do I go about getting this mineral naturally? ”

Most would immediately think of spinach; high in iron, lots of fiber, and Popeye used it to get his strength, right? Sort of. While spinach does carry a decent amount of iron, it also contains substances that block iron absorption. Some foods contain substances that block irons bio-availability, like egg whites, milk, tea and coffee. While these foods are great on their own, if you are focusing on increasing your iron supply you wouldn’t combine these foods with other iron rich foods.

Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron more readily, so when you eat eggs, combine them with orange juice or a tomato slice to punch up your iron absorption. If your having a spinach salad, toss in some mandarin orange slices, bell peppers, or strawberries.

Cast iron skillets are another great way to increase your iron, especially with foods like tomatoes, corn, lentils or squash, which are high-acidic foods that absorb a significant amount of iron when cooked in cast iron.

Herbalists suggest drinking teas made of cumin, mint, caraway or anise to help with iron absorption. Cooking with herbs is also recommended and is another natural way of building up your iron.

Supplements are great, but getting your minerals and vitamins through your food source is always preferable. Remember, foods like pastas, breads, cream of wheat and cereals are good sources of iron if you are a vegan or vegetarian and have a concern about your iron intake.

Be well!

Shelli Rossignol lmt/cr December 2012

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