Iron: Who Needs More, Who Needs Less, How and Why
In America iron deficiency is surprisingly common. The best iron food group is meat. Animal heme-iron is much more absorb-able than vegetable non-heme iron. Heme means blood which is what helps makes red meat red.
However, it is mostly among children, teenage girls, women with exceesive menstral flow and the aged. Indeed among most mature healthy adults, especially men, iron EXCESS is the problem. This is because iron is a PRO-oxidant as compared to an anti-oxidant. Indeed, one reason to give blood is to LOWER your iron count as an anti-aging measure! This is why in my online anti-aging course I recommend an IRON FREE multivitamin/mineral.
Let me mention why the very elderly tend to get anemic. Some common reasons are poor appetite, loss of taste/smell, difficulty preparing foods, poor digestion and poor dentition.
Oysters, beef and chicken livers, beef kidney, shrimp, herring , sardines, tuna , dark turkey and red meat, in that order, are the best sources. Among the grains, bran flakes, wheat germ and bran and oats flakes are best. Pumpkin and almonds are the best nuts and seeds. Lima and pinto beans are quite high, as are spinach , parsley and peas. Apricots, figs, watermelon, raisins and prunes are the best fruits. Most vegetables are a poor source with carrots, asparagus and beets the best of the rest of the group.Brewers yeast and blackstrap molasses are old standbys for vegetarians.
Taking just 100 mg of Vit C with your meals can increase your iron uptake by 250% ! Tea, and worse coffee, can prevent 50% to 80% of the iron from being absorbed. In the elderly, supplementing with HCL (hydrochloric acid) is sometimes needed in order for assimilation of iron to be possible, especially iron pills. Many antacid medications interfere with iron digestion by making the stomach "less acid". It should be noted here that "acid stomach " is almost never a stomach that is too acid, rather a stomach lining that no longer protects against acid like a healthy stomach does, or it is acid "refluxing" up into the unprotected esophagus.
Your doctor can measure your iron status quite easily. However, early anemia symptoms will show before a simple iron test shows anemia. Special iron binding capacity tests, and iron transfering tests are more accurate. The earliest detection will come from darkfield microscopy, a special microscope used mostly by alternative practioners.