A cast iron pan sitting on a towel with a bite taken out of it.

Foods That Help With Iron Deficiency Anemia

Since I was a child, I've always struggled with slight anemia. I remember going in for my annual check-up before school would start, and across the board, all my blood work would come back textbook perfect except my red blood cell count. I was always a bit anemic. My doctor would suggest my mom feed me foods high in iron and then send us on our way.

Fast forward to today, and I still struggle with anemia. However, now it is on a much more extreme level considering that I have the diagnosis of Crohn's disease. Almost, every time, with the exception of one instance, my iron levels are always depleted and my red blood cell count always shows anemia.

Issues with iron absorption because of Crohn's

For some reason, I just have an issue absorbing iron and it has become something I can’t understand. Ironically, of course, oral iron makes me painfully sick. I’ve tried all the supplements out there, food-based, non-food-based, even liquid iron. My body just doesn’t seem to want to absorb it. So oftentimes, my GI prescribes IV iron which even so, sometimes leaves me feeling ill.

However, in the last couple of weeks, I have become more proactive in the foods I eat in order to help get my iron levels up. One of the best things you can have is beef but I find that I don’t always digest it well. So just to share, here are some of the foods I have been having to improve my iron levels:

Foods I eat to improve iron levels

1. Beet juice for blood health

Beets are a wonderful superfood and they are great for blood health and offer iron. According to my nutritionist, there are two types of iron, one that you can get from plants and the other from animals. According to her, the iron of animals is what is most beneficial for someone with iron deficiency anemia, however, I figure some iron is better than no iron.

So, I have a minimum of one full glass of beet juice every day, and I have to say, I have noticed an improvement in my level of fatigue. The juice I purchase has orange juice added to provide a more sweet taste. I’m not a fan of beets too much, but this juice is very refreshing and tasty.

2. Chicken liver/beef liver

Since having a good-old steak isn't the best option for me, the next best thing is chicken liver or beef liver. Yes, I know, it is an organ and the texture can be a bit off-putting but the liver is a great source of iron.

A way of eating chicken liver that isn't so awful is by following a chicken liver pate recipe. It’s a dip that you can make and can pair with crackers. It isn’t so awful and actually, some people love it.

3. Oysters/shellfish for iron

For those who aren’t allergic, oysters, or most shellfish for that matter, are a great source of iron. I recently have come to like raw oysters with some lemon juice, tartar sauce, and horseradish on top. So, if you don't mind the texture, this is a wonderful way to get some iron into your diet.

4. Kiwi fruit and digestive health

Lately, I have been on a kiwi kick. Kiwi is a great superfood with a ton of benefits, one being digestive health which is why I started having them often. But they also contain iron! So if you love kiwis, add them to your diet.

What about you? Any foods you like to eat that contain iron? Share below, we love to hear your suggestions.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

How long has it been since you were diagnosed with UC?