Iron-Rich Foods for Postpartum Recovery

iron-rosh foodsI have struggled with keeping my iron levels up since adolescence. I thought that finally I would have a break from dealing with it when I was pregnant (no period, no blood loss!). Which is true, you aren’t menstruating every month. However, building a tiny human from scratch (Good job, moms!) demands a lot of iron. It’s the reason why prenatal vitamins tend to have so much iron in them (which is why some women have tummy troubles with them).

If you are having troubles with your iron levels, there are lots of foods that can help. For me personally, my body seems to absorb iron best from red meat (I don’t like liver, but if you do, liver is an excellent source of iron). I got that tip from an ANP I used to see. When I start to feel weak or get a bit bruisy, I try and eat a serving of steak. I’m not a huge meat eater, but it makes a big difference in how I feel. Iron from animal sources is called heme iron, because the source originally contained hemoglobin. Shellfish like clams and oysters are also very good sources of iron.

Broccoli, potatoes,  and spinach and other green leafy vegetables are also good sources of iron. Iron from non-animal sources is called nonheme and doesn’t absorb as well as heme. Blackstrap molasses is a good as well–if you enjoy the taste, you can get a hefty iron boost by stirring some into Cream of Wheat (which is fortified with iron).

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, tofu, quinoa, lentils and red kidney beans are all good sources of protein and iron.

One thing to keep in mind, whether you’re trying to boost your levels through food and/or supplement, is that vitamin C is BFFs with iron. Try and get vitamin C, through either food or supplement, alongside your iron-rich food or supplement.

Finally, if you don’t tolerate regular iron supplements well but need something beyond what you’re eating, Floradix is a really excellent supplement. You drink it before eating. I’ll be honest, it’s super expensive and it tastes kind of yucky, but I have had a lot of luck with it when I dip too far down.

Meaghan Howard is a busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys and a houseful of animals. She and her family are enjoying living overseas for the time being.

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