Ten Common Sense Tips to Combat Anemia

For many of us, anemia was the first clue that something was wrong. Whether or not we are celiacs, mommies, or both we all have an interest in keeping our iron levels normal. Once you become anemic, it can be so hard to get your iron stores back up! I became anemic at the end of my second pregnancy and worked very hard to get it back up before delivery. I was so successful in getting my iron back up in those last days of pregnancy that I wanted to share some of the things that helped me. I still keep these things in mind so I do not become anemic again. I know that many of you have suffered far greater than I have with anemia. If you have any advice that you would like to share, feel free to join in the conversation and leave a comment.

iron topia Ten Common Sense Tips to Combat Anemia

Remember these are just common sense tips- I am not a medical professional, just a gluten free mommy.

1) First things first, I take a multivitamin. If I am pregnant or nursing (like right now) I take a prenatal vitamin instead. It took me a long time to find one that was gluten-free that I could swallow without wincing. It is important not to slack off about taking your vitamin. If you need your spouse to be the vitamin police, so be it! It worked for me.

2) During my pregnancy, I took Liquid Herbal Iron instead of taking iron tablets. My midwife assured me it absorbed better than tablets and I would feel better in two weeks. Lo and behold, my iron was back up in exactly two weeks. So I highly recommend Liquid Herbal Iron. On a side note, I took mine in lemonade instead of juice because I thought it tasted a lot better.

3) I also take Alfalfa Tablets- They are a good source of Vitamin K, which is not readily absorbed by those with celiac disease. I took alfalfa tablets throughout my pregnancy and continue to take them postpartum. Alfalfa tablets really do have an effect on the body, so make sure you consult your doctor. Some doctors would prefer their patients not to take alfalfa if they are pregnant (some think it may cause uterine tightening) or if they are taking aspirin or any other anticoagulant on a regular basis. However, my midwife touted its ability to help raise iron levels, reduce postpartum blood loss, and help with an inadequate milk supply. As always, make sure the tablets are gluten free.

4) Exercise! Just a simple 15 minute walk to get your blood moving does wonders.

5) I also added Brewer’s yeast (gluten free of course) to various foods I ate- This is a great source of the B vitamins, which are needed to absorb iron. Some people put Brewer’s yeast in juices or baked goods, but I prefer to put Brewer’s yeast in more savory dishes.

6) Blackstrap Molasses is also a good supplement to increase iron stores. When placed head to head with red meat, it has the benefit of containing less calories and being fat-free.

7) Eat some greens! Try kale, spinach, collard greens, bok choy, beat greens, or turnip greens. Once you learn to prepare these nutritious greens, they can be scrumptious as well as good for you.

8) If you are not a vegetarian, try to include some red meat in your diet.

9) Make sure you are getting the Vitamin C you need to sustain good health and absorb the iron you are taking. Drink orange juice in the morning instead of coffee. Having caffeine in your bloodstream could make it harder to absorb the iron you are taking.

10) Eat a handful of nuts or add them to baked goods. They are a great source of protein and iron.

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17 Responses to “Ten Common Sense Tips to Combat Anemia”

  1. Hello, Natalie.

    I found your blog tonight while trying to show our 8yo dtr there are lots of people who need to eat gluten free. (She’d been in tears.)

    I like your blog! I will be back. Need to know: what gf prenatal vitamin do you use? I haven’t researched my pnv! I went gf a month before delivering our 4th–or so I thought…The pnv??

    Thank you for the tips!

  2. I found that when I changed my diet, I really had to be careful to get enough iron. It’s something that you should always have in the back of your mind as your are considering what to prepare.

  3. Whole Foods carry some pnvs and I use a generic Kroger prenatal. I was told they were gf by the company. They do contain soy. I just hated the way some of the prescription ones tasted and they were so hard to swallow. I figure a generic that I actually take is way better! I asked if they were gf about a year ago when I got pregnant with my second (Oct 06).

  4. Good tips! I am sure that many people need this. I don’t have an iron problem, but if I ever do, I’ll be back here figuring it out.

    Amy J – I am sorry for your little girl! The diet is def. do-able and she can have yummy treats, but it still stinks. I still mourn the loss of those foods I cannot have, and the freedom of eating whatever. So, hugs sent your way. You have a big community to draw from!

  5. We suffer from anemia, me and both my girls. Heard that it is common with people who have very fair skin. I try to take a package of spinach and finely chop it into slivers and add it to whatever is for dinner. Hide it. Goes with most things. Thanks for the tips.

  6. Marsha- That is a great tip. And I am SO fair skinned. lol

  7. Been on vacation! Missed this post! I love Floradix Iron Plus Herbs – they have a gluten free one (they also have a non-gluten free one, so be careful!). It helps immensely!

    I can tell when I haven’t had it.

    Great list.

  8. I have been diagnosed with coeliac disease for 12 months to discover that I am still very low and iron, which is obviously affecting my hoemoglobin levels. My doctor has placed me on iron tablets for two months and to then take more blood samples. Is this something that I will have to endure the rest of my life or could there be a more serious and sinister problem? Would love to hear if anyone else has the same problem.

  9. CM-
    I did get my iron up, but was more successful with liquid iron than with tablets. I know some celiacs have had luck with iron shots. I know there are some celiacs who have had far more problems with iron because they suffered with the disease for a longer period of time. Their gut took longer to heal. I would talk with your doctor about it.
    Oh, and I am no longer supplementing with iron and I am doing fine!

  10. Love your site. This post especially caught my eye. Was i ever anemic when sick with celiac! No doctor checked my stored iron, and I virtually had none. I thought I knew a lot about getting iron in my diet, but obviously, and happily, one can always learn more. Thanks for your tips, very helpful. I am older, also have another autoimmune condition, and must still make certain to keep iron up.


  11. Natalie, this is a great list. However, I learned from my RD (and then read more about it on the ‘net) that spinach is actually not a good source of iron. It has iron in it, but it also contains oxalates that block iron absorption from the spinach itself and even from the other foods that are consumed with it. Some other greens are a good source of iron, though.

  12. The Sam’s club brand Members Mark has a gluten free prenatal vitamin. The Members Mark regular multivitamin is also gluten free.

  13. Hello Natalie,
    I am new to this GF life style and thanks for being such a great mentor for us all. I am looking forward to baking again. I am in the process of re-stocking my pantry with all the new and may I say strang things needed to sustain my new life style. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on doing so, such as storage and maybe making pre-mix’s on the dry parts.
    Thanks so much, Sheri Collins, Ut

  14. Hi Natalie,
    I have recently been diagnosed as anemic (although I am not sure if I have celiac’s. I’d like to go back to the doctor and have them find out.) and although I have been on slow-release iron tablets for over a week, I’m not feeling any better. I’m still weak, dizzy, excessively tired. I will try some of the advice you’ve given here!

  15. Oxalates/oxalic acid in spinach is neutralized by cooking the spinach. So it’s not all spinach that is problematic, just RAW.

    Also watch those phytates in raw nuts. Best consumed after a long soak–you can eat the nuts in a smoothie this way, with some soaked dates or a banana, some water, coconut milk, very yummy. Or sprinkle the nuts with sea salt or wheat-free tamari and dehydrate for a crunchy snack.

  16. I have always been anemic – but it wasn’t until I was pregnant that I learned if you take an iron supplement, your body absorbs it better with Vit. C – –BUT that taking calcium at the same time will make it HARDER to be absorbed. When I started taking Iron at night with only vit. C my levels improved much faster. hope this helps other people!

  17. Dear Natalie,
    I fortunately stumbled across your wonderful site. Thank you for the all that you are doing to help others. I will be recommending your site to my patients.
    Best wishes to you and those that use your info,
    Dr. Alf Garbutt

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