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How to Naturally Increase Iron

hair loss iron deficency Mar 16, 2023

Iron is an important mineral needed for growth and development, as well as the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency anemia affects one out of five women under the age of 50. 


Fortunately, raising your iron levels does not have to be complicated. Here are five ways you can increase your levels and prevent iron-related hair loss. 

  • Eat More Iron-Rich Foods

Iron is found naturally in both animal and plant-based foods. Heme iron is the form found in animal products and is most easily absorbed while non-heme iron is the form found in plants.  

Animal sources of iron

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Shellfish
  • Fish

Plant sources of iron

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Whole grains (oats, quinoa)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Enriched fortified cereals
  • Pumpkin seeds

Roughly 15-35% of heme iron is absorbed compared to 2-20% of non-heme iron. (1) Because non-heme iron is more difficult to absorb, those who follow a plant-based diet are at an increased risk of iron deficiency. Eating a variety of whole foods can help increase your dietary intake of iron. 

  • Eat more vitamin C rich foods

Vitamin C has been found to bind to non-heme iron and store it in a form that is more easily absorbed. Foods rich in vitamin C include peppers, citrus, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, strawberries, and kale. Pairing these foods with iron-rich foods can help increase iron levels. A great example of this pairing would be peppers with beans. 

  • Consider an iron supplement

Because iron is a difficult mineral to absorb, supplementation may be necessary to achieve adequate levels. It is possible to take too much iron and reach toxic levels. Be sure to consult your doctor first so they can help guide you in knowing which dosage and form of iron is best for you. 

  • Space out your tea and coffee

Tannins and oxalates are natural compounds found in tea and coffee known to bind non-heme iron and prevent absorption. Rather than eliminating these beverages entirely, consume them two hours away from iron-rich foods or supplements. 

  • Cook with a cast iron pan

When using cast iron, iron is released from the pan and absorbed by the foods being cooked, particularly acidic foods like tomatoes. One study found that cooking with cast iron increased the iron content of food by 16% (2).

If you are concerned about your iron levels don’t hesitate to have a conversation with your doctor and ask for the support you need.

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