The best dietary sources of iron include red meats, poultry, seafood and pork, says Mayo Clinic. Non-meat sources of iron include green leafy vegetables, legumes, fortified cereals and breads, and dried fruit. Since the body absorbs less iron from these sources than from meat, a person needs to eat larger servings of these foods to get an adequate amount of iron. Another way to increase iron absorption is to include vitamin C with these foods.
People who have iron-deficiency anemia usually must take an iron supplement in addition to eating iron-rich foods, according to Mayo Clinic. Because the iron stores of the body are so low in an anemic person, diet alone does not correct the problem. The body's absorption of iron from supplements is limited but also increases with the addition of vitamin C. Other ways to increase absorption are to take the iron supplement on an empty stomach and to avoid the use of antacids within four hours of taking iron.
Even though the symptoms of anemia may disappear shortly after beginning iron supplementation, it takes months for the body to replenish its reserves of iron, advises Mayo Clinic. Iron supplementation may need to continue for a year or more in order to prevent a recurrence.