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Are you getting enough iron?

When your red blood cell count (hematocrit) is low, you might develop a condition called anemia. This means you are not making enough red blood cells or are losing blood from your body. You need the red blood cells to carry oxygen everywhere.

If your doctor tells you your red blood cell count is low – or if you have been unable to donate blood because your hematocrit level is too low – you may not be ill but could stand to pump up your blood. And the best way to help your body replenish your red blood cells is to increase your intake of iron. Iron is needed to make red blood cells.

Food sources of iron:

Meats: liver, beef, pork, poultry and fish
Shellfish: shrimp, clams, mussels and oysters
Iron-fortified cereals
Beans or legumes (especially kidney beans, pintos and chickpeas)
Vegetables such as peas, spinach and lentils
Fruits, especially apricots and raisins
Enriched and whole grain breads

And to improve the absorption of iron from any of these sources, eat vitamin C-rich foods at the same meal. For example, a glass of orange juice, cantaloupe, green peppers or tomatoes, suggests the American Red Cross Blood Services. Avoid drinking tea with meals. It decreases your body’s ability to absorb the iron.

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