Drinks That Boost Iron Levels

Iron is an essential element for human health and well-being. An iron deficiency can occur if you have poor or insufficient intake, iron depletion, or blood loss. Not having enough iron in your body can lead to anemia, which can cause complications such as extreme fatigue and heart problems. 

Your hectic life may make it difficult to get sufficient minerals and nutrients. Medical professionals recommend consuming foods and drinks rich in vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C helps your body dissolve and absorb iron.

Let’s look at the best drinks to boost your iron levels and why it’s so important. 

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Importance of iron in the blood

Iron is present in some foods and drinks, and you can also take it as a dietary supplement. Iron is a vital component of hemoglobin, a red blood cell protein. This protein is responsible for transporting oxygen from your lungs to your organs and tissues.

Iron is also responsible for metabolism, physical growth in children, neurological development, and hormone synthesis.

Groups affected by iron deficiency

The recommended dietary iron intake depends on your age and sex. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends the following average daily intake of foods and supplements for different groups:

While you can obtain adequate amounts of iron by maintaining a healthy diet, certain groups are prone to conditions caused by low intake. The most affected groups include the following:

Women with menorrhagia

Some women experience heavy bleeding during menstruation that depletes their iron reserves. This condition is called menorrhagia, resulting in more iron loss per cycle compared to a regular menstrual bleed.

Pregnant women

Pregnancy increases blood plasma volume and red cell mass to help the fetus develop and mitigate any blood loss during delivery. Pregnant women should increase their iron intake to avoid giving birth to underweight babies and reduce the chances of infant mortality.

People with gastrointestinal disorders

If you have a gastrointestinal disorder, you may experience bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and struggle to absorb dietary iron. These issues lead to low hemoglobin production and anemia.


Infants need iron to ensure they grow into strong, healthy adults. Iron is especially important if they were born underweight or if the mother was iron-deficient during pregnancy. Feeding infants iron-rich foods once they reach six months is vital.

Blood donors

Blood donation is necessary for our fellow humans to survive, and it’s an honorable thing to do. Still, regular donation depletes iron reserves. Studies indicate 25–35% of frequent donors have a higher chance of depleting their iron reserves than first-time donors.¹

Taking iron supplements after a donation reduces the time to regenerate the lost hemoglobin.

Symptoms of iron deficiency

Iron deficiency anemia may be mild at the start, but your symptoms will become more noticeable as the anemia worsens. Symptoms you may notice include:

  • General body weakness

  • Fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Reduced exercise tolerance

  • Dizziness and headaches

If you have these symptoms, it’s best to consult your doctor to rule out any other conditions. Self-medication can mean your doctor may miss the chance to diagnose and treat another condition. They’ll also advise you how to restore your iron levels safely.

Drinks high in iron for anemia

Drinking non-heme (plant-based) iron-rich fluids can increase iron buildup when your dietary intake isn't enough. The following drinks high in iron for anemia can supplement your diet:

Prune juice

Prune juice is high in iron and is an excellent supplement to heme (animal-based) iron. Studies indicate that a 240ml cup of prune juice delivers 17% of your daily value (DV) of iron. It boosts energy and is suitable for people living with diabetes.²

While it’s rich in iron, you should have something alongside prune juice to increase your dietary iron intake. It doesn’t absorb as well as animal-based iron (heme iron), so balancing it with heme iron is recommended.

Beetroot juice

Beetroot contains nutrients such as manganese and vitamin C. Manganese helps your metabolic enzymes function correctly, while vitamin C facilitates iron absorption. Drinking beetroot juice can improve your liver function and repair and boost oxygen absorption by red blood cells.

According to studies, excess dietary manganese isn’t harmful, but it can inhibit iron absorption.³

Spinach, cashew, and raspberry smoothie

Blending a cup of fresh spinach, two cups of raspberries, and two tablespoons of cashew butter creates a high-iron drink. All the non-heme ingredients offer multiple iron sources, and it’s a tasty supplement that boosts your iron intake.

Spinach contributes 15% of your iron DV, while cashew butter offers 11% in only two tablespoons.⁴ ⁵

Cocoa and beef liver smoothie

Cocoa powder provides 16% of your iron DV in a 20-gram serving.⁶

Beef liver also has a high iron content, but it can be an acquired taste. Blending it with other flavors can mask its taste, and cocoa is a great option. 

Mixing beef liver powder with cocoa powder provides heme and non-heme iron to improve your intake. This smoothie also provides vitamin B12 and magnesium.

Pea protein shakes

Pea protein goes well with smoothies and shakes and seamlessly blends with other iron-rich ingredients. It provides 30% of your DV for iron per 0.71-ounce (20-gram) serving.⁷

Pea protein is rich in protein, healthy fats, and vitamin C. Purchasing the unflavored variety means you’ll avoid any added sweeteners.

Pumpkin juice

Pumpkin has antioxidizing properties and contains minerals that improve your health. Its seeds are full of iron; you can consume them as a snack, add them to your favorite shake or smoothie, or sprinkle them on your food. Blending chopped pumpkin into a puree is also a great way of supplementing your iron intake.

Does alcohol affect hemoglobin levels?

Excessive alcohol drinking can lead to serious long-term health consequences. Habitual drinkers risk heart problems and liver damage. It may also lead to low body immunity because of reduced white blood cell production.

Studies show that alcohol interferes with your metabolism, affecting iron absorption. Heavy alcohol consumption also inhibits red blood cell production and leads to abnormal blood cells that don't mature into functional cells.⁸

If you’re worried about your alcohol consumption affecting your iron intake and general health, speak to your doctor for their advice. 

The lowdown

You can increase the iron levels in your blood by supplementing with drinks rich in iron and vitamin C. Drinking these juices in moderation can boost your daily iron intake. Combining heme and non-heme iron supplements will ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle and great iron stores.

  1. Iron deficiency in blood donors: Analysis of enrollment data from the REDS-II donor iron status evaluation (RISE) study (2011)

  2. Prune juice, canned | U.S. Department of Agriculture

  3. Manganese | NIH: National Institute of Health

  4. Organics baby spinach | U.S. Department of Agriculture

  5. [Historical record]: Raw cashew butter | U.S. Department of Agriculture

  6. [Historical record]: Cacao chocolate powder | U.S. Department of Agriculture

  7. [Historical record]: Organic pea protein powder | U.S. Department of Agriculture

  8. The hematological complications of alcoholism (1997)

Other sources:

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