|MadSci Network: Medicine|
Dear Yun, In nature, iron is available in two forms, the haem and the non-heam form. Humans can easily absorb the haem form and this iron can be used in the making of red blood cells. The other form, the non-haem form can be absorbed, but the absorption is very much lower. Important products which contain iron in the haem-form are meat products. Liver is for instance an important source, but also beef, fish, eggs. Most animal products contain iron in this haem form. Vegetable foods contain iron mostly in the non-haem form. Important sources are pulses, soy beans, nuts, millets, cereals, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables. To improve the absorption of this non-haem iron it is important that next to the cereals also sufficient vitamin C is in the diet. Sources of vitamin C are citric fruit, other fruits, potatoes, vegetables. When non-haem iron and vitamin C are consumed together, the non-haem iron is changed into a haem-iron and thus more easy to absorb. As I do not know from which country you come, I do not know which foods are available and which eating pattern you normally have. In some communities in the tropics the main food is cereals (wheat, maize or sorghum), adding some green vegetables, fruits and meat to such a diet can readily inprove the iron status of the blood. You also asked for foods which contain the vitamin B complex. As you asked this question for a woman who got anemia, I suppose that the main B vitamin you are interested in is not the B complex as a whole, but more specific the vitamin B6 and B12. There are many different B vitamins which have many different functions in our body. B6 and B12 are both related to the making of red blood cells. B12 occurs only in animal products such as egg, cheese, yogurt, curd, milk, fish, meat. B6 occurs also in meat and fish, and further in potatoes, bananas, wheat, and nuts I hope you can help your friends mother, when she had a severe iron shortness it is good for her to go to a physician, by means of iron pills the irons status of the blood can increase. Regards, Lucy van de Vijver
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