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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