3. You can usually get enough iron from your diet.
You don’t have to eat bales of spinach or a Fred Flintstone-size steak. But it’s important to understand there are two kinds of iron, explains registered dietitian Vinnci Tsui. “Heme iron, which comes from meat or seafood, is absorbed more readily by the body,” she says. Non-heme iron, which comes from plants and vegetables, can also be a source of iron, but the body doesn’t absorb it as well. You have to combine it with foods that are rich in vitamin C, which helps the body absorb the non-heme iron more efficiently.
“Enjoy a mixed bean salad made with lemon vinaigrette and topped with chopped tomatoes, so you get iron from the beans and vitamin C from the lemon and tomatoes,” Tsui suggests. “Trail mix made with pumpkin seeds, raisins and dried apricots for iron, along with dried cranberries for vitamin C, is also great.”
Melina, co-author of Cooking Vegetarian, recommends a stir-fry made with tofu, red peppers and pineapple juice. Most grain products like pasta, bread and cereal are fortified with added non-heme iron, so your daily levels could add up without too much difficulty. For example, a package of enriched instant oatmeal contains up to 6.7 mg of iron, while a bagel can have 3.2 mg.