top of page

Iron / anemia - overcome deficiencies

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

To overcome deficiencies in iron (anemia)

  • Work on levels of b12, other B’s & folate

  • Understand how Iron absorption can be blocked - phytic acid

  • About digestion & how to get the most out of our nutrient absorption

  • Food ideas and types of iron


Work on levels of b12, other B’s & folate

  • B vitamins work synergistically with iron absorption.

  • Activated forms of these vitamins are recommended if supplementing because unactivated forms must converted in the liver- if we are deficient, skipping this step is ideal for replenishing levels in the body.

    • B12 Methylcobalamin is activated - versus cyanocobalamin is not.

    • Folate (B9) is the activated form - folic acid is the synthetic version of B9.

    • Thiamine is activated of B1 - thiamin is not.

Understand how Iron absorption can be blocked

  • Phytic acid is naturally occuring in plant foods- in higher concentrations of nuts, cereals/grains and legumes.

  • Phytic acid binds to minerals and iron, preventing the body from absorbing them and allowing them to pass through our system unharmed. Animals that live off these foods (herbivores) readily produce phytase (the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid) in their digestive tract- we humans, even though we are omnivores, do not produce high levels of phytase, it depends on individual gut flora.

  • Therefore we can counteract phytic acid by FERMENTING, SPROUTING and COOKING thoroughly our plant foods before consuming them.

  • So for example situations that in theory impact iron absorption at a meal time:

    • A multigrain bread that was not fermented naturally (sourdough). Refined flour is easier to digest. Sourdough is ideal however; the bacteria in the culture break down phytic acid, gluten, create enzymes for digestion and create B12 during fermentation.

    • Hummus or legume dips that are made from canned beans / or the beans are not sprouted first for 1-2 days (until the water gets bubbly and you see a tail start).

    • Caffeine, alcohol and cocoa- try these 20 mins away from eating at least.

    • Oxalates in tea and brassica foods and spinach (unless well cooked or fermented- e.g sauerkraut, steamed/sauteed spinach until it gets brighter).

About digestion & how to get the most out of our nutrient absorption

  • To get the most out of our digestion our body can handle 3 meal times per day, 1 being larger/longer than the other 2. Ideally this larger mealtime is consumed not too late in the day, as to give the body time to digest before sleep.

  • Snacking in between meals impacts our digestion negatively- unless intense activity is endured and blood sugar must be replenished.

  • A meal should last the body 4-6 hours until the next feeding, with an overnight fast of 10-16 hours, where we detoxify waste products and assimilate nutrients.

  • Proper bowel movements are needed every day, they should have form and be passed gracefully. This is an indication that nutrients - especially vitamin B12 and K2 are being successfully fermented in our colon by our gut bacteria. Otherwise we can suffer from deficiencies.

Food ideas and types of iron

  • There are 2 types of iron in foods- heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal foods- animal meat, dairy, eggs, etc. Non-heme is found in plant foods, from there our body converts it into heme iron.

  • Top foods containing heme iron:

    • Red meat- especially slow cooked red muscle meat - have red meat at LEAST 2 times per week if anemic.

    • Organ meats - try a dehydrated liver supplement.

  • Top foods containing non-heme iron and B vitamins in high concentration:

    • Algae - try a spirulina / chlorella supplement.

    • Beets - try them roasted or boiled.

    • Herbs- stinging nettle, mints- try in a tea or in capsules.

  • To boost nutrient absorption:

    • Try adding citrus (naturally occurring vitamin C) into the lifestyle - lemon water, fresh lemon or orange in meals, sauces, dressings, etc. Grapefruit is especially beneficial for our liver.

  • To boost overall digestion:

    • Local foods- hit up a market - apples are in season and they boost our digestive system w. soluble fibre & vitamins.

    • Fresh ground flax seed, hemp hearts for omegas fatty acids, try this on yogurt or toast.

    • Plain whole fat organic yogurt or homemade yogurt is ideal for friendly gut bacteria to aid in fermentation assimilation in the colon. Try brands: organic meadow or rolling meadow for active cultures in Ontario grocery stores. Brands that contain milk and bacteria culture as the ingredients are ideal- versus sugars, fruits, thickeners and preservatives.


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This blog post is made using my textbook library, notes from school and from experience working with nutrition in the wellness industry. If you would like to have more information, please email me at . If I cannot assist you, I will direct you to someone who can.


bottom of page