Natural Ways to get Iron

This Sunday, I’ll be jumping off my previous posts of the week and talking about iron.  Since I recently found out that I’m pretty anemic, it seems like a good topic choice.

“Molly,” you might ask, “Why don’t you just get an iron pill?”

A very good and very important question.  I don’t get along well with iron supplements.  First and foremost, they aggravate the nausea.  It’s a huge part of the reason I do not take a prenatal vitamin.  The high iron just makes me ill.  They also can be very constipating, and believe me, I get enough of that from the Zofran.  Finally, they can be difficult for your body to absorb.

Nutritional supplements can be good, but often they pass right through your body.  The trick is to get your vitamins and minerals from food.  For the vitamins that I do take, I try my best to find companies that source theirs from foods.  New Chapter vitamins (my daily vitamin) are sourced from food.  So is Floradix, my new iron supplement.

Sourcing nutrients from food also means they’re easier on the stomach.  So far, I’ve not thrown up a New Chapter vitamin (everyone knock on wood!), and the Floradix seems to sit pretty well, too.

I would like to find some other ways to safely and gently incorporate iron into my diet through simple and easy changes to my eating.  Now, anyone who has had HG knows that this can be difficult.  Finding snacks that don’t make me sick can sometimes be a challenge, so I did what anyone would do!

I called my mom!

And when you call in my mom, she springs into action in a big way!  She pulled out her trusty copy of Prescription for Nutritional Healing and went straight to work looking up foods for me to try.  Some of the ones she listed included (but is not limited to):

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Dark leafy greens (NOT spinach)
  • Purple grapes
  • Plums and prunes
  • Carrots
  • Dried Apricots
  • Liver (yeah right!)
  • Meat
It also listed foods to avoid (also not limited to):
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Other dairy products
  • Sugars
  • Chocolate (damn!)
  • Spinach

Wait a second.  Avoid spinach?  Apparently so!  According to the book (and wikipedia backs this up), spinach contains a compound called oxalate that can block the absorption of iron.  Good to know!

I also asked the good folks over at the Natural Parents Network Facebook page for some gentle and natural ideas to help with adding iron into my diet.

Those ladies came through in a big way.  I got a big thumbs up on the Floradix, but they had some other suggestions as well.  I’m not sure how ready I am to try powdered colostrum or terramin clay (or where I can even find those things!), but they also suggested some simple things like:

  • Cast iron skillets (check!)
  • blackstrap molasses
  • Stinging nettle infusions (will have to check and see if that’s safe for pregnancy)
  • Avoid corn and wheat (not sure how well I can do that since I’m on a bread-heavy diet right now)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Turnip greens and carrot tops
  • Foods high in vitamin C to help the iron be absorbed into my body

The most appealing suggestion, though, was to try out some green smoothies to see if they are palatable to me.

Now I have to admit:  I was not exactly sure what a green smoothie is.

If you’re clueless like me, here’s the gist of it:  Green smoothies are a fruit-based smoothie into which is blended a leafy green of some sort.  This can be spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, dandelion greens, or anything else leafy and green.  They look green, but the flavor is that of the fruit

I swung by Trader Joe’s today, and here’s what I got for my green smoothie experiments:

  • Kale
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Fresh medley of cut pineapple, papaya, and mango
  • Orange juice
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut water
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Unsulfered Prunes (can be soaked to reconstitute for blending)
I’ve also got in my pantry:
  • Organic blackstrap molasses
  • Flax meal (high in omega 3s)
  • Agave nectar (if I need to sweeten it)
Let the experimenting begin!
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11 thoughts on “Natural Ways to get Iron

  1. I’ve heard that dandilions taste a bit peppery. Molasses would be great in a smoothie, but it’s quite strong – I’m not sure you’d be able to use enough for the iron you need without overpowering your smoothie. Most lettuces are nutritionally void – I’ve read many, many articles about not using them for pets because they’re not good for you.

    Crazy as it sounds, check this iguana feeding chart: http://www.greenigsociety.org/foodchart.htm It doesn’t discuss iron, so you’d have to look that up elsewhere, but it does discuss the calcium to phosphorus ratio, other chemicals present, fiber and fat content, and even how much protein various fruits and veggies have by mass.

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  2. Nettle is (I believe) totally safe for pregnancy – with my last, when I got over the nausea, I was drinking a nettle and red raspberry leaf infusion tea to prepare for labor. Apparently those two herbs are awesome for women, pregnant or not.

    Black strap molasses – good, good stuff. I used to put it in our baby food. Reminds me, I should again! Going to get it out.

    I used to do green smoothies before I had to ditch them for the very low carb diet. (I tried to do one with just greens and water, no fruit, and nearly threw up trying to get it down. Bad.) They’re awesome, looking forward to getting back to them. My favorite was kale, sometimes lettuce, with banana and apple. I tried to do one with mustard greens once, and it was totally unpalatable (tasted like peppery dirt). I think dandelion would probably be even worse! But maybe some people like bitter smoothies (?).

    Good luck!! I know I’ll be on Floradix in the 3rd trimester, and I’m going to try the OJ idea (apple juice doesn’t completely mask it).

    Hope you’re enjoying your midwives – I’ve got 3 1/2 weeks till our first visit with ours, can’t WAIT!! 🙂

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    1. I’ve heard a variety of good things about Nettle, too! I’m just not sure when I’m supposed to start taking it. I accidentally started taking the Red Rasberry Leaf tea a little too early. No harm done, but my MW told me to stop. 🙂

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  3. Oh, and can you tell us how you are liking the Hypnobabies home study course? (I guess you might have to wait till after the birth to judge?) I’m debating between home study and in-person if we go with Hypnobabies. Not sure yet.

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  4. Have you tried roasting kale into “chips”? Really delicious and it might trick your body into thinking you were eating fast food, which you seem to be tolerating better now. Toss washed kale with sea salt & olive oil, then bake for about 20 minutes until crispy. Sounds crazy, but it is delicious! Some recipes add a splash of apple cider vinegar or spices like cumin, garlic powder & chili powder.

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    1. Hmmm… I may have to work up my courage for that. 😉 But I bet it is good. When we were in Japan, tempura fried leafy greens were shockingly delicious. I don’t see why the same wouldn’t be true for crispy baked greens.

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  5. This post reminded me of a pregnancy shake that I used to make when I was preggo (before the HG hit full force). I remember it being pretty tasty, and it included the blackstrap molasses. This might be a good base to add several of the ingredients you listed. You can change it up a million different ways, but here’s the basic recipe:

    1/2 to 1 cup apple juice
    1 to 2 tsp. blackstrap molasses
    1 banana
    1 to 2 tsp. nutritional yeast
    1/2 to 1 cup yogurt
    1 tbsp. wheat germ or fresh ground flaxseeds
    1 to 2 tbsp. honey or pure maple syrup
    1/2 to 1 cup low fat milk (or almond milk or rice milk if you tolerate it better)
    1/3 tsp powdered kelp

    You probably already have a ton of good smoothie recipes, but just in case, I thought I’d pass this one on. 🙂 Hope you find something that works quickly and feel better soooon! HG is MORE than enough without extra stuff going on!

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  6. I have a yummy green smoothie recipe on my blog that is delicious! And I second the recommendation for the kale chips! They are fantastic as long as they don’t get burned.

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