Iron Rich Foods

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Are you low in iron and want to know the best food sources?

Red Blood Cells

First of all, what is iron and why is it important?

It helps to transport oxygen around the body, and as our cells and tissues all require oxygen, iron is essential for life.

It is also important for producing energy, as iron is used in the Citric Acid Cycle which releases stored energy from proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

It is also necessary for optimal immune function, enzyme production, growth and storing oxygen in our muscles (this is what gives muscles their red colour!).


Symptoms of iron deficiency

  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration
  • Learning issues
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Headache
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness/dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Brittle nails
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Low stomach acid
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Strange cravings for ice or dirt, known as pica
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Tingling or a crawling-feeling in the legs

Rich Food Sources of Iron;


Red meat is the best known source of iron, but it’s not the only source. Iron from animal sources is known as heme and plant based iron sources are known as non-heme

  • All meat, such as lamb, pork, chicken, and beef
  • Fish and seafood, such as; salmon, sardines, prawns and oysters
  • Eggs
  • Pulses and beans, such as; lentils and soybeans (see note below about iron absorption and pulses)
  • Tofu
  • Seeds including; sunflowers and pepitas
  • Nuts such as; almonds
  • Dark leafy greens, such as parsley, spinach, kale and watercress
  • Dried fruits such as apricots and raisins
  • Avocados
  • Seaweed
  • Grains such as rice ((see note below about iron absorption and grains)

Vitamin C helps your body absorb the iron you eat. Foods high in vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges, mandarines, lemons, limes and grapefruit,
  • Other fruits such as; strawberries, kiwis, guava, papaya, pineapple, melons, and mangoes
  • Broccoli
  • Red and green capsicum
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes
  • Dark leafy greens

Vegetarians and vegans should make sure they’re eating enough beans, tofu, dried fruits, spinach, and other dark vegetables.

Vegetarians may need nearly twice as much iron on a daily basis as people who eat animal products. This is because iron from plant foods may not be absorbed as easily or completely as iron found in animal products, such as meat.

Rusty pots

Cooking your food in iron rich pans, particularly acid based foods such as tomato sauces, can be a good source of iron!!


  • Calcium, especially in the form of dairy, at the same time as taking an iron supplement or eating a meal rich in iron, as it competes for absorption with iron. Have calcium rich foods or supplements at other times of the day
  • Zinc, copper, manganese and possibly magnesium, take these as supplements and food sources at separate times.
  • Tea or coffee as the tannic acid in tea and coffee reduce absorption.
  • Peppermint and chamomile
  • Phytic acid found in grains, pulses and other plant foods can reduce absorption by up to 80%, but having vitamin C at the same time counteracts that effect.


Don’t take iron when there’s an infection present as bacteria need iron for growth. The body will hide iron in the liver and other storage areas to starve the bacteria, so supllemening at this time only feeds the bacteria.

Image courtesy of yodiyim at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Potassium Rich Foods

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Potassium is a mineral found in almost all foods in varying amounts. The richest sources of potassium are vegetables, especially the green leafy varieties.

Potassium is an electrolyte as is; sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium.  Electrolytes help to conduct electrical charges throughout the body.

Potassium is particularly important as the heart and nervous system can completely shut down if levels get too high or low. Most of us get enough potassium in our diet, but a diet low in fruits and vegetables can become compromised.

Our kidneys are constantly keeping electrolytes in a healthy range in our blood. There can be a number of factors which may impact on potassium levels, so it always worth keeping an eye on the levels. As the blood is usually kept within a healthy range it may be more beneficial to have a hair, tissue, mineral analysis to determine potassium levels outside of the blood.

Foods rich in potassium;

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Avocadoes
  • Banana
  • Beet greens
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Chillies
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coconut Water
  • Dairy
  • Dates
  • Eggs
  • Fish (all types)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Grapes
  • Kefir
  • Lentils
  • Melon
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts; almonds, cashews and pecans
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Passionfruit
  • Pears
  • Potato
  • Raisins
  • Red meat
  • Sardines
  • Seeds such as; sunflower seeds, pepitas, sesame
  • Soy including; milk, beans, tofu and tempeh
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Tomatoes (sundried)
  • Turnips
  • White Beans
  • Yoghurt