What Decreases Iron Absorption

To identify what decreases iron absorption let us first know a little about Iron.

 

Iron is an important element that makes haemoglobin in your body. Haemoglobin is a protein in the blood that takes up oxygen in the lungs and delivers it to the whole body. When your body is deprived of iron for a long period of time, your iron stores start to deplete, you become anaemic. That’s when you notice symptoms of anaemia like shortness of breath on the slightest of exertion, lethargy and dizziness.

Causes of Iron deficiency

Young women ( blood loss due to menstruation), malnourished individuals, low socioeconomic status, chronic bleeding disorders like peptic ulcers, crohns disease, haemorrhoids and unhealthy dietary puts you at higher risk of having iron deficiency anemia .

Sources of Iron

Beef, liver, red meat tofu spinach, lentils, and eggs are considered a rich source of iron. You can also take iron supplements in the form of tablets or capsules.

What Decreases Iron Absorption:

Certain substances interfere with iron absorption so you must be careful while taking iron supplements.

Calcium 

Calcium is the main component of your bones. Taking iron and calcium at the same time will increase calcium absorption but decreases iron absorption significantly.

Milk

Milk and dairy products are rich in calcium thus inhibiting iron absorption.

Tea, Coffee:

Tea and coffee contain polyphenols which prevent iron absorption in the gut. Also if your tea/coffee contains milk that too will inhibit iron absorption.

Medications

The low pH of the stomach helps the absorption of iron. Medication that increases stomach pH significantly lowers iron absorption. Examples of such medications are PPIs (omeprazole, pantoprazole, lansoprazole) and antacids.

Conditions that degrade the mucosa of the duodenum

A healthy gut mucosa is required to absorb nutrients. If the mucosa is injured or diseased, it probably won’t absorb anything at all. Examples of such conditions are listed below:

  1. Celiac disease
  2. Tropical sprue
  3. Crohn’s disease
  4. Duodenal cancer
  5. Duodenal ulcers
  6. Familial adenomatous polyposis

Best food to eat with Iron

The best food to take with iron is citric fruits like oranges, and tangerines etc. These fruits contain vitamin C which boosts Iron absorption through the gut.

Iron we eat is in oxidized form which can not be absorb in the gut. Vitamin C being a great antioxidant reduces the iron and convert it into absorbable form.

Best time to take Iron

There is no best time to take iron. Nutrients tend to absorb better when there is less load on your gut. So the best time to take iron is whenever your gut is empty.

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