When we are iron deficient, our red blood cells and muscles are not receiving enough oxygen. This causes the fatigue you are experiencing. Adequate iron levels are also required for optimal immune system function. As you say, your diet has been less than optimal, but other factors may be at play with iron deficiency. Poor digestion, prolonged use of antacids, long term illness and a diet high in phosphorus, strenuous exercise are all contributors.
Taking an iron supplement will improve your iron levels plus you also need to follow an iron-rich diet. It is not advisable to take more than the recommended dose of iron due to the fact that excess is stored and causes the production of free radicals.
Separate iron supplements and calcium and Vitamin E. That is, don’t eat a high calcium food along with your iron rich food.
As you are aware, excessive amounts of Coffee, tea, bran and wheat germ inhibit iron absorption.
Do take the supplement with Vitamin C and choose either ferrous gluconate or ferrous fumarate which are more easily absorbed. Haem iron sources include red meat, poultry, fish, eggs.
Non haem iron, poorly absorbed , is mostly from plant sources. Green leafy vegetables-broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, whole grains, avocadoes, legumes, pumpkin, Nuts-almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, tofu, miso, dates, peaches, pears. Combining non-haem and haem iron foods will increase absorption.
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