So low iron is nothing new to me. I've been on iron supplements since I was 14 or 15, and I know better than to go off of them because I hate feeling draggy and tired and weak. As one might guess, it's worse during pregnancy. I got a small amount of blood taken at my last prenatal appointment and had to sit for ten minutes because it made me so dizzy. The first thing the nurse said was "well it looks like we're definitely gonna have to check those iron levels!" Expected, it was worse when I was pregnant with Noahbug too. The current issue is finding an iron supplement that doesn't upset my stomach, because all the iron supplements I've ever been on make me nauseous lately. So I've been trying to eat more iron rich foods, and it's helped a bit. Not a great deal, but I'm feeling better than before. It takes time.
I had an opportunity the other day to catch up on some school work and I dove on it. I'm on the health and diet section in my books, so I picked up where I'd left off last - which was the section on iron. In that section it talks a lot about food, and a lot about foods that I eat almost daily, like: tea, coffee, chocolate, and chili powder (on food of course).
What do all of these have in common? They block the absorption of iron! I never knew this. Coffee and tea are part of my daily routine. I have a coffee problem, and an even worse tea problem. To me, tea is pretty much the definition of happiness. I've tried almost every tea, I love all tea, I love trying new teas, I love experimenting with teas. I love the process of finding the single greatest tea there is (currently cinnamon apple spice tea by Celestial Seasonings, FYI). I like tea with honey, tea with lemon, tea with honey and lemon, tea that wakes you up, tea that calms you down, tea that makes you sleepy, tea that boosts your mood, tea that tastes like fruit, tea that tastes like... well, tea. I just love tea with a passion that's probably slightly abnormal. If you ever want to get me a present, get me a variety pack of teas. I'll love you always.
And what pregnant woman doesn't like chocolate? I try to keep it limited to 3 or 4 chocolate bars a week, but sometimes you can't really control the craving. I have to work on my will power with food... but hey, it could always be worse, right?
Anyway, black tea reduces the amount of iron your body is able to absorb by up to 94%. Peppermint blocks it up to 84% and chamomile tea blocks it by up to 47%. So my Lipton tea's really been killing my iron absorption. Big time. My morning sickness tea has been killing it almost as badly as the Lipton! And the chamomile tea I take to calm down on rough nights helps my mood but hurts my iron supply. I'm still trying to figure out the lesser of those evils. On top of this, when I ran out of vitamin C I didn't stock back up, and vitamin C helps your body absorb more iron. So not only have I not been helping my body to absorb as much iron as I can by continually forgetting to get more vitamin C, I've also been blocking the iron I do consume by drinking coffee and tea and eating chocolate.
Working against yourself at it's finest.
On the bright side, this section also lists many foods that are rich in iron that I didn't even know about.
A cup of wheatgerm provides 7.2mg of iron, 4oz of ground beef provides 3.2mg of iron, 2oz of chicken liver provides 7.2mg of iron, and the winner is amaranth - just one cup provides 14.8mg of iron!
The recommended intake of iron for a pregnant woman is 27mg. Two cups of amaranth and you're good to go! I found some good recipes containing amaranth online:
These are definitely going to make my life easier. Iron rich, good for you, and they look pretty tasty to boot!