Community Blog

Good Foods for Anemia

By Marcie Silverman

Anemia is a condition that occurs when the body doesn’t have enough red blood cells. It can happen because of an underlying medical condition, blood loss, or because the body isn’t able to make enough red blood cells on its own. Regardless of the cause of anemia, one way you can help your aging relative to manage the condition is by serving iron-rich foods.

How the Body Gets Iron

The upper part of the small intestine takes on most of the work of absorbing iron from the foods that people eat. There are two kinds of iron that occur in food:

  • Heme Iron: Heme iron comes from hemoglobin, so it’s found in poultry, meat, and seafood.
  • Nonheme Iron: This kind of iron is found in plant foods.

The body gets more iron from heme iron than it does from nonheme iron. Nonheme iron doesn’t absorb into the body as easily as heme iron does.

Foods that Contain Iron

To increase the amount of iron your aging relative eats, try adding more of these foods that contain heme iron to their diet:

  • Beef liver.
  • Chicken liver.
  • Clams.
  • Mussels.
  • Oysters.
  • Beef.
  • Sardines canned in oil.
  • Chicken.
  • Turkey.
  • Ham.
  • Veal.
  • Fish.

Some sources of nonheme iron include:

  • Iron enriched breakfast cereals.
  • Beans.
  • Tofu.
  • Dried apricots.
  • Baked potato.
  • Enriched egg noodles.
  • Wheat germ.
  • Pumpkin, sesame, or squash seeds.
  • Nuts.
  • Broccoli.
  • Raw spinach.

Other Ways to Get More Iron

In addition to eating iron rich foods, there are other ways you can help an older adult to get more iron in their diet, such as:

  • Use Cast Iron: The foods you cook can absorb iron from the cast iron pan it is cooked in. Acidic foods, like those that contain tomatoes, will be most effective at taking in iron from the pan.
  • Include Vitamin C: Consuming vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron better.
  • Drink Less Coffee, Tea, & Soda: These drinks interfere with the body taking in iron.

The doctor may also suggest that your aging relative take an iron supplement. Because iron supplements can cause stomach upset or constipation, it may be best to use a slow release formula. You can find them by looking for “slow iron” or “slow Fe” on the label.

Senior care can help to include more iron rich foods in your loved one’s diet. A senior care provider can help to plan meals that include foods that contain both heme and nonheme iron. Senior care providers can also take the older adult grocery shopping, assisting them with pushing the cart and carrying heavy bags of groceries. If the elderly person struggles to cook for themselves, a senior care provider can even prepare meals for them.

Sources
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322336.php
https://www.webmd.com/diet/iron-rich-foods#1
https://www.verywellhealth.com/eating-to-best-manage-iron-deficiency-anemia-797414

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED-ONE ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR CARE IN STERLING, VA, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS HOME CARE. OFFERING HOME CARE IN: ARLINGTON, FAIRFAX, AND LOUDOUN COUNTIES – ARLINGTON, ALEXANDRIA, MCLEAN, FAIRFAX, VIENNA, OAKTON, RESTON, HERNDON, FALLS CHURCH, GREAT FALLS, STERLING, ASHBURN, AND LEESBURG. CALL TODAY: (703) 766-0154.