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Vegetarian with an Iron Deficiency

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I am a vegetarian and have been most of my life. Last year i had my blood tested and it was all healthy. But for the past few days Iv'e been feeling very tired, lazy, and a little sick. My mum thinks Iv'e got an iron deficiency and she's probably right. But is there any way i can tell without a blood test? If i do have a deficiency how can i get the iron i need in my diet without eating meat or taking supplements?
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First Helper AmyA
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replied April 11th, 2012
Extremely eHealthy
Pumpkin Seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds provide 30 percent of the Recommended Daily Value for iron. When roasted, they supply about 15 percent, approximately the same as other seeds. Nuts such as almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts provide 8 to 10 percent of your daily iron needs. Grab a handful of nuts for a quick snack, or blend them into savory sandwich spreads and pates. Experiment with recipes that combine nuts or seeds with garlic, spices, sun-dried tomatoes or olives. Serve with crackers and raw vegetables or toss with pasta.

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Beans
A half-cup serving of beans provides about 10 percent of your daily iron needs. Soybean products such as tofu and tempeh are also rich in iron, supplying about 10 to 15 percent iron per 4-oz. serving. You can help your body absorb most of this iron by preparing dishes that combine beans with foods rich in vitamin C. Examples include tomato and bean salad, vegetarian chili, tomato-based soup, tempeh sloppy Joes and tofu-vegetable stir fry. You may also want to add fresh bean sprouts to your diet, as they contain both iron and vitamin C. Toss bean sprouts into salad, soup, scrambled eggs and stir fry, or use in place of lettuce on sandwiches.

Vegetables
Eating a wide variety of vegetables will help you meet your iron needs. Spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, peas, brussels sprouts, bok choy and tomatoes contribute both iron and vitamin C to your diet. These vegetables also go well with other iron-rich foods, such as tofu, tempeh and beans.

Grains
Many cereals and pastas are fortified with iron; read nutritional labels for the best choices. For a whole grain naturally high in iron, try quinoa or amaranth in place of brown rice and serve with vegetables or beans. For an iron-rich whole-grain breakfast, make hot cereal out of oats or buckwheat. To get your day started with even more iron, add nuts or seeds and some vitamin-C-rich fruit, such as blueberries or strawberries, to your cereal.

Eggs
Two eggs contain about 8 percent of the daily value for iron. Most of the iron found in eggs is heme iron that will be easily absorbed, and will also help your body better absorb non-heme iron from vegetable sources. To get the most out of your eggs, combine with iron-rich vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, beans, bean sprouts or potatoes. Tomatoes, which provide some iron and a lot of vitamin C, also go particularly well with eggs.

Potatoes
Potatoes and sweet potatoes contain both iron and vitamin C. They can be easily combined with other iron-rich foods either as a side dish or part of the main recipe. Try adding potatoes to chili, bean stew, spicy chickpea dishes, curried lentils, egg recipes and spinach dishes. Mashed potatoes can also substitute for rice as a base layer in Indian food, bean dishes or vegetarian stew.

Molasses
One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses provides 15 percent of the Recommended Daily Value for iron. Try mixing molasses with warm milk for a relaxing treat. If you like the flavor, consider adding it to your morning cereal.

You need a blood test to get your iron levels
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Users who thank AmyA for this post: Dillila123 

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replied April 11th, 2012
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Include grains, fruits, eggs, chicken, green vegetables in your diet. Do blood test and check your iron level.do not decide yourself.

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Rolling Eyes
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replied April 19th, 2012
Extremely eHealthy
She's a Vegetarian so meat products aren't an option!
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replied April 19th, 2012
AmyA, firstly thank you! But will eating those things keep my iron levels high enough for me not to get sick again? Last year i got my blood tested and my iron was ok but i was hypo glycemic (blood suger levels to low) Would this give me symptoms similar to iron defficiency?
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replied April 19th, 2012
Extremely eHealthy
Having low blood sugar can make you feel tired but this eases when you eat something whether it be high sugar or not.

You can get low blood sugar levels, by skipping meals, exercising more without upping your in take of food and other things.

May I suggest that you eat 6 times a day small meals and snacks rather than big meals. Eating small regular meals will help your motabilisim stablise, keep your blood sugar levels stable without them dropping too low and it could help up your iron levels.

It is also worth keeping in regular follow up with your docotor and having your iron and blood sugar levels checked regularly to make sure everything is okay. If your iron levels are still too low even after eating iron rich foods and doing things to keep your iron intake up then I'm afraid that you may have to take iron tablets for a while until your iron levels are at the right levels.

Hope this helps Smile
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replied April 20th, 2012
Ill talk to my mum about the doctors visits. Its just that she works full time and is really busy so its hard to find time for things where both of us are free. Thank you!
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