I had a question via www.facebook.com/fitnessinthecity this week, which is very common so it makes a perfect post: I just found out that my hemoglobin levels are low so I need to get my iron levels up. What would you recommend?

First things first – you need to make sure there is no underlying health issue causing your low hemoglobin levels, so I ALWAYS recommend seeking a medical practitioner for a full consultation to get the whole scope of your health history.

So let’s cover (the bare minimal) basics: Hemoglobin is the part of your blood that carries oxygen to your tissues. Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin.

Low hemoglobin is the main cause of anemia. When the hemoglobin level is slightly below normal, it is possible that the symptoms may not even get detected at all. Feeling of tiredness, headache, dizziness, fatigue and lack of concentration are some general symptoms that cannot be identified as symptoms of low level of hemoglobin in particular.

There are three recommended ways to increase your iron:

1. Eat a variety of foods rich in iron (more on that below)

2.Take iron supplements containing ferrous sulfate

3. Take plant base supplement like Spirulina as it is an iron rich superfood, scientifically proven to be beneficial and easily absorbed. It comes in powder or tablet form and it is a great option if you are vegetarian.

We obtain iron from a both plant and food sources – iron from meat, fish and poultry (called heme iron) is said to be absorbed 2 or 3 times more efficiently than iron found in plant sources (nonheme iron). The best sources of iron-containing foods are lean red meat, especially beef, oysters, salmon, tuna, liver, egg yolks, whole grains and dark poultry meat.

Plant/vegetarian options include prunes, raisins and apricots, legumes, especially lima beans, soy beans and kidney beans, almonds, Brazil nuts and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, collards, asparagus and dandelion greens

Another hot tip is to eat foods that contain vitamin C as it also increases absorption of iron. While drinking tea, coffee or milk with a meal can decrease iron absorption – so no downing your vitamins with your morning coffee…

Sources Of Iron:

Fruits and Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables

Tomatoes, Broccoli

Brussels sprouts

Red capsicum, Beans

Cabbage, Peas, Beets

Asparagus, Corn

Orange, Cantaloupe

Pineapple, Grapefruit

Banana, Raspberry

Strawberry, Guava

Papayas, Kiwi fruit

Black currants, Mango

        Lychee, Sprouts

Other Foods

Poultry, Eggs

Shellfish, Fish

Red meat, Liver

Molasses, Lentils

Fortified cereals

Dry fruits, Nuts

Sunflower seeds

Soymilk, Jaggery

Whole bread

Whole grains

Baker’s yeast

Oat and Wheat bran

             Peanut butter

Vitamins and Herbs


Vitamin B6

Folic Acid

Vitamin B12

Vitamin C

Fenugreek seeds

Dandelion greens


Dong Quai



Yellow dock root

             Carao fruit

Include a daily meal of a colorful salad full of dark green veges, sprouts, beets, tomatoes, dandelion leaves, sunflower seeds, nuts topped with your choice of meat. Try the below from www.taste.com.au for inspiration!

Thai Beef Salad Ingredients (serves 4)

600g beef rump steak

1 quantity lime sesame dressing

1 tablespoon Alfa One rice bran oil

250g grape tomatoes, halved

2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved lengthways, thinly sliced diagonally

2 long red chillies, halved, deseeded, sliced diagonally

1 cup fresh mint leaves

1 cup fresh coriander leaves

1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves

1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped steamed rice, to serve

Lime sesame dressing

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated


  1. Make dressing: Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and ginger together in a jug until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Place beef in a glass or ceramic dish. Drizzle over half the lime sesame dressing. Turn to coat. Cover. Refrigerate for 1 hour 30 minutes, if time permits.
  3. Heat a barbecue plate or chargrill over medium-high heat. Drizzle beef with oil. Cook for 2 minutes each side for medium, or until cooked to your liking. Transfer to a plate. Cover. Set aside for 5 minutes to rest. Thinly slice.
  4. Place tomato, cucumber, chilli, mint, coriander, basil, and beef in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Divide between plates. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Sprinkle with peanuts.

References and extra reading on the subject:

National Institutes of Health: Iron

MedlinePlus: Iron in Diet

USDA: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Iron

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Iron and Iron Deficiency



Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.