An adequate regimen is fundamental for patients with Thalassemia, although the iron overload is mostly due to blood transfusion and only a small amount of iron is absorbed from the food, it’s important to know which foods contain more iron. The amount absorbed depends on the level of haemoglobin in the blood: it gets lower if the level is under 10 mg of haemoglobin.
Meat iron is present in red meat such as beef, lamb, pork and the dark met of chicken as well as in seafood such as sardines, cockles and mussels. Liver is a very rich source of meat iron. Try to cut down on these and perhaps substitute meat with soy protein, however, it is not, a good idea to exclude completely meat, chicken and fish from your diet because they contain other important nutrients, especially for children. On average, after a meal with red meat, about 35% of iron will be absorbed in to our body. This percentage decrease depending mainly on whether the meal contains milk or milk products. The calcium present in milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream decreases the absorption of meat iron. Milk intake should be at least one pint daily, particularly because it also helps to prevent osteoporosis.
Non-meat iron is widely distributed in the diet, present in eggs, chocolate, cereals, vegetables, fruits, roots (potatoes, parsnips), beans and lentils. The absorption of non-meat iron from the diet into our body is much less than that of meat iron, but it depending on the composition of the meal.
Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-meat iron; it‘s present in fruit, fruit juice and vegetables. It’s better to avoid drinking fruit juice, such as orange juice, with your meal or your toast in the morning. Fruit and fruit juice are, however, good sources of antioxidants and should be taken on their own as snacks. If you are using Desferal, however, it is recommended that you take vitamin C after beginning infusion to help increase output of iron. Other meat which fish, shellfish and poultry, pickles, sauerkraut, soy sauce, vinegar and alcohol (Not drink beer during the meal) increases the absorption of iron.
Other meat which fish, shellfish and poultry, pickles, sauerkraut, soy sauce, vinegar and alcohol (Not drink beer during the meal) increases the absorption of iron.
Food that decrease non-meat iron absorption
The foods that decrease its absorption are cereals and dairy products. Wheat bran, maize, oats, rice and soy decrease the iron absorbed into our body and fight the effect of Vitamin C. Tea, coffee and some spices (e.g. oregano) decrease iron absorption. Drink plenty of tea and coffee daily, particularly with your meals. Better yet, if you take it with milk.
Do not cook with cast iron cookware (e.g. a wok) because iron from the cookware can transfer onto the food.