The American Red Cross provides a list of iron-rich foods that includes meat and plant-based sources. Consuming these foods reduces the risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. The body absorbs more iron from meats than other food sources.
For best absorption of iron, meals should also include a source of vitamin C. Drinking citrus juice or consuming foods such as broccoli, melons, strawberries or tomatoes with the meal help to provide more of this vitamin. The body uses iron to produce hemoglobin, the substance in the blood responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the other cells. Iron deficiency anemia causes the person to feel fatigued and out of breath. Other symptoms include headaches, dizziness and feeling cold.
While a poor diet is one cause of iron deficiency anemia, other causes include blood loss, disease and an increase in the body's need for iron. Women, individuals over 65, dialysis patients and people who take blood thinners are at a higher risk for anemia. Some people have difficulty absorbing iron, which increases their risk for anemia. Doctors treat iron deficiency anemia by diagnosing and treating the underlying cause. Some patients with this type of anemia require oral iron supplements and a change in diet to recover from the condition.