The body needs several essential vitamins and other nutrients to build red blood cells. Eating a diet that is low in iron, folate, B12, and protein may result in anemia. Conditions that impact absorption in the gastrointestinal tract may also contribute. The best way to ensure adequate intake of nutrients is to eat a varied, balanced diet. Diets that restrict certain food groups or diets that do not contain sufficient animal-based foods may increase the risk of anemia.
Good Sources of Iron
Lean meat and seafood are the best sources of the heme form of iron, the most bioavailable form of the mineral. Beans, vegetables, nuts, and fortified cereals are good sources of the nonheme form, which is less bioavailable. Poultry, meat, ascorbic acid, and seafood all help increase the absorption of the nonheme form. Compounds called phytates found in beans and grains inhibit absorption of the mineral. Certain polyphenols in cereals and legumes have a similar effect.
Some of the best food sources of the mineral from greatest to least include fortified breakfast cereal, oysters, white beans, chocolate, beef liver, lentils, spinach, and tofu.