Iron-Rich Diet: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your body needs iron to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to cells all through your body. If you do not get enough iron, your body makes fewer and smaller red blood cells. As a result, your body's cells may not get enough oxygen.

Adult men need 8 milligrams of iron a day; adult women need 18 milligrams of iron a day. After menopause, women need 8 milligrams of iron a day. A pregnant woman needs 27 milligrams of iron a day. Infants and young children have higher iron needs relative to their size than other age groups. People who have lost blood because of ulcers or heavy menstrual periods may become very low in iron and may develop anemia.

Most people can get the iron their bodies need by eating enough of certain iron-rich foods. Your doctor may recommend that you take an iron supplement along with eating an iron-rich diet.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Make iron-rich foods a part of your daily diet. Iron-rich foods include:
    • All meats, such as chicken, beef, lamb, pork, fish, and shellfish. Liver is especially high in iron.
    • Leafy green vegetables.
    • Raisins, peas, beans, lentils, barley, and eggs.
    • Iron-fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Eat foods with vitamin C along with iron-rich foods. Vitamin C helps you absorb more iron from food. Drink a glass of orange juice or another citrus juice with your food.
  • Eat meat and vegetables or grains together. The iron in meat helps your body absorb the iron in other foods.

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