How to keep your iron levels up during the cold months

As the colder months set in, ensuring your body receives an adequate supply of iron, an essential mineral vital for various bodily functions, becomes crucial [1]. 

Iron is pivotal in transporting oxygen throughout the body, supporting metabolism and enhancing overall wellbeing.

Incorporating iron-rich foods into your diet is a practical and effective strategy to fortify your iron levels during winter [2]:

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  1. Lean meats: Include meat like poultry and fish in your winter diet. These are excellent sources of heme iron, the type of iron found in animal products, which the body absorbs more efficiently than non-heme iron from plant-based sources.
  2. Leafy greens: Boost your iron intake with dark leafy greens like spinach and kale. These vegetables provide non-heme iron, a vital component for vegetarians and vegans. To enhance absorption, pair these greens with vitamin C-rich foods.
  3. Nuts and seeds: Snack on nuts and seeds like almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. These are rich in iron and provide healthy fats and additional nutrients essential for overall health.
  4. Legumes: Incorporate legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and beans into your meals. These plant-based iron sources are convenient for vegetarians and meat-eaters, offering a versatile and nutritious addition to winter recipes.
  5. Fortified foods: Include iron-fortified foods, such as fortified cereals and bread, in your diet. These products are specially enriched with iron, providing an accessible way to meet your daily requirements.
  6. Vitamin C-rich fruits: Consume fruits high in vitamin C, like oranges, strawberries and kiwi. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-heme iron from plant-based foods, making it easier for your body to use this essential mineral.
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  7. Cook in cast iron: Use cast iron cookware for preparing meals. Cooking in cast iron can increase the iron content of your food, especially when preparing acidic dishes like tomato-based sauces [3].
  8. Limit tea and coffee consumption: Reduce the intake of tea and coffee, especially during meals. These beverages contain compounds that may inhibit iron absorption [4]. Consider drinking them between meals instead.
  9. Diversify your diet: Ensure a well-rounded and diverse diet to meet your nutritional needs. A varied selection of foods contributes to a balanced intake of iron and other essential vitamins and minerals.
  10. Stay hydrated: Adequate hydration, including iron absorption, is fundamental for overall health. Drink sufficient water throughout the day to support the transportation of nutrients in your body.

Incorporating these dietary practices into your winter routine can boost and maintain your iron levels.

Whether you’re a meat-eater, vegetarian or vegan, making conscious choices about the foods you consume ensures that your body receives the necessary nutrients to thrive, even during the colder months.

Prioritizing iron-rich foods will contribute to your overall wellbeing and help you stay energized and healthy throughout winter.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/
[2] https://www.ndtv.com/health/you-must-add-these-iron-rich-foods-to-your-winter-diet-4612942
[3] https://www.americastestkitchen.com/guides/cook-it-in-cast-iron/busting-cast-iron-myths
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266969/

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