Iron supplementation is needed to recover depleted iron stores and an iron-rich diet is needed to maintain the increase in iron stores. Typically, supplementation involves 100-300 mg of iron per day in conjunction with vitamin C to enhance absorption. Full recovery is slow and can take as long as 3 months. Blood levels should be reviewed after 10-12 weeks and supplementation ceased when measurements return to usual ranges.

A diet rich in iron is needed to prevent iron depletion reoccurring. A dietitian can provide specific feedback. However, the following tips will help:

  • Choose breakfast cereals that contain added iron.
  • Consume red meat such as beef, lamb or kangaroo 3-4 times each week. Small amounts (80-100 g) are sufficient. Think about creative ways to consume meat such as in sandwiches, stirfries and soups if you find it difficult to eat large chunks of meat. Shellfish, canned fish and poultry are also useful sources of iron.
  • Add vitamin C-rich foods (fruit, juice, capsicum, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) to meals to enhance the absorption of iron.
  • For vegetarian meals, choose iron-rich foods such as legumes and add vitamin C-rich foods to enhance the absorption of non-haem iron
  • Avoid or limit intake of iron inhibitors such as bran and wheat germ.
  • Avoid drinking strong tea and coffee with meals. It is OK between meals but not with meals.

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Good luck!