Self-management

Prevention

You can reduce your risk of iron deficiency anemia by choosing iron-rich foods.

Choose iron-rich foods

Foods rich in iron include:

  • Red meat, pork and poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins and apricots
  • Iron-fortified cereals, breads and pastas
  • Peas

Your body absorbs more iron from meat than it does from other sources. If you choose to not eat meat, you may need to increase your intake of iron-rich, plant-based foods to absorb the same amount of iron as does someone who eats meat.

Choose foods containing vitamin C to enhance iron absorption

You can enhance your body's absorption of iron by drinking citrus juice or eating other foods rich in vitamin C at the same time that you eat high-iron foods. Vitamin C in citrus juices, like orange juice, helps your body to better absorb dietary iron.

Vitamin C is also found in:

  • Broccoli
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Leafy greens
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Tangerines
  • Tomatoes

Preventing iron deficiency anemia in infants

To prevent iron deficiency anemia in infants, feed your baby breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year. Cow's milk isn't a good source of iron for babies and isn't recommended for infants under 1 year. After age 6 months, start feeding your baby iron-fortified cereals or pureed meats at least twice a day to boost iron intake. After one year, be sure children don't drink more than 20 ounces (591 milliliters) of milk a day. Too much milk often takes the place of other foods, including those that are rich in iron.

Nov. 11, 2016
References
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  2. Schrier SL, et al. Treatment of iron deficiency anemia in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 16, 2016.
  3. Iron-deficiency anemia. American Society of Hematology. http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Anemia/Iron-Deficiency.aspx. Accessed Oct. 16, 2016.
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  5. What is iron-deficiency anemia? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ida/. Accessed Oct. 16, 2016.
  6. Schrier SL, et al. Approach to the adult patient with anemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 16, 2016.
  7. Mahoney DH, et al. Iron deficiency in infants and young children: Treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 16, 2016.
  8. Iron: Fact sheet for health professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/#h3. Accessed Oct. 16, 2016.
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  10. Mesa RA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. October 17, 2016.