Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?). Also, there are over a thousand subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

Check out my associated blog posts: How to Enhance Mineral Absorption andEating To Extend Our Lifespan, and Soymilk: shake it up!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?). Also, there are over a thousand subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • desavov

    What should people with Iron deficiency do, especially when they are prescribed to take Iron pills?


      Hi Desavov,
      There are many causes of iron-deficiency anemia (from intestinal bleeding, menses to insufficient dietary intake or absorption). The most common cause of iron-deficiency anemia in adults (age 50+) is chronic GI bleeding due to gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer or GI cancer. Also,the following food items can decrease iron absorption: Dairy (irritates stomach lining), eggs, tea,coffee and cocoa taken during meals. A balanced vegetarian diet that includes legumes, fortified grains, and green veggies easily provides adquate iron. Vit. C and A from fruits and veggies appear to enhance iron absorption. People with iron deficiency should discuss their condition carefully with their physician to identify the CAUSE of their deficiency and then rectify that problem in order to circumvent or minimize having to be on iron pills. Here’s a helpful video clip for pregnant women and iron:
      For more info on other forms of supplementation:

  • Watermelon

    At 0:45 he says that you may need to supplement, take iron pills, under certain circumstances. He then says “for most people taking extra iron is a bad idea.”

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Multivitamins and Mortality!

  • Michel Voss

    Cheapest first test – after serum ferritin – to identify the CAUSE of  iron deficiency: reticulocytes in blood, normal range 0.5% to 1.5%.

  • Spoday

    My latest blood work showed anemia and the doctor ordered iron supplements.  Based upon these videos, two questions come to mind: (1) is there a separate test to determine if mine is iron deficiency anemia or some other reason for anemia (no sign of ulcers etc. but should I have a test?) and (2) should I take the supplements in the mean time?  I have upped my green leafy veggies (kale, spinach, etc.).  Are there other / better sources or iron for diet?

  • Michel Voss

    How increased luminal – but not systemic – iron strongly promotes murine intestinal  tumorigenesis:

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    My friend who is a science teacher tells me that Iron is more easily absorbed from Animal flesh than from any plant based source? He says it’s to do with the types of Iron. I forget the words he used. He also said the vitamin C helps absorption of Iron, in which I said so does eating lemons. However? Is this true? Is the best source of Iron not plant based?

    • Michel Voss

      Iron is more easily absorbed from Animal flesh ( hemoglobin, myoglobin) than from any plant based source. But Iron is a double-edged sword. It forms hydrogen peroxide (free radical) which is removed by antioxidants – if you have enough in your body from plant-based food.

    • Toxins

      In addition to what Michel Voss said, none heme iron is also absorbed more easily with shallot family vegetables, such as garlic or onions.

      Iron is very easy to get on a whole foods plant based diet so even ignoring the fact that non heme iron is not as easily absorbed is not relevant.

      • Michel Voss

        1978 – 1999 I was blood donor, felt always very tired after donation & had an extreme lack of iron – despite whole foods with plenty shallot vegetables since 1982: Ferritin 2 ng/mL. PMID: 23712019

  • David

    What about cooking in an iron skillet. I thought you had covered that somewhere along the line but I don’t see it. Concerns, effects????

  • jamie williamson

    Hi, I recently got my blood tests back and am a bit concerned. I have been Vegan for 4 years. I try to keep the fats low but have been known to eat some more processed foods like boca chick’n pattys and potato chips :( Within the last year I started drinking soda and have consistantly had 3-4 beers in the eveninng 5-6 nights a week before bed for the last few years. I am wondering If going back to just drinking water and losing the processed foods could fix my #’s or if the alcohol could be what is making them off.
    Also, I am 31, caucasion, Female, 143 lb., 5’4.
    The things out of wack are:
    Iron 208 ug/dl
    Glucose 100 mg/dl
    SGOT 12 U/L
    SEG 39%
    Lymph 47%

    Thanks in advance for your time. I am very worried. I don’t see my Dr. about this for a month and he is very overweight and unhealthy looking, I would trust your advice much more. From what I see online they may want to remove large amounts of my blood weekly to fix the iron. Should I be worried about this???!!!! thank you Jamie

  • Beth B.

    I’ve just been diagnosed with Anemia, probably due to extremely heavy menstrual periods. Been prescribed iron pills, but would rather treat with diet. Already eating lots of tofu, beans, leafy greens. Advice/suggestions? Should I take the iron?

  • catalinda8

    I am a long-time vegetarian (over 30 years). I feel great. Recently, I went in for a physical and had blood work done. Everything was great, and I’m not anemic, but my ferritin levels are low (7, where the doctor said she likes to see it up around 30). Since then, I’ve upped my bean and pumpkin seed intake. I don’t think I’ll have blood work done for at least six more months, but should these dietary changes be sufficient? Or should I consider a supplement? Although I’m 51, I haven’t hit menopause yet, so that may be a factor.

    • Michel Voss

      I am vegetarian since 1981. 1997 my ferritin level fell below 2 because of blood donations. Although without anemia, at that time I felt really tired. As you feel great, you can eat more pumpkin seeds and wait six more months.