November 2nd, 2005


I am (not exactly) Iron Woman

Incidentally, turns out my hematocrit levels (that's "iron in the blood," if you don't watch TV hospital shows) are a shade on the low side--32%, when they should ideally be around 35% or 36%. Doesn't exactly count as anemia, or at least not to any alarming degree, but upping my iron intake may be in order.

Thing is, I already take the prenatal vitamin, which is packed with the stuff, so I'd rather not add on iron supplements. Preferably I can do this with diet. To avoid interfering with iron absorption, coffee and tea are out (seems to be due to tannins as much as caffeine), and vitamin C is in. Animal sources of iron are absorbed much more easily than vegetable sources, so eggs and meat are also in--but spinach and legumes and so forth couldn't hurt.

And here's my own independently thought-up idea: dark chocolate. I noticed on my container of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa (Dutch-processed; we're talking the non-sweetened powder, for use as an ingredient) that one tablespoon of the cocoa has 15% of your RDA for iron. Now, they're probably going by the non-pregnant person's RDA, which is something like 18 mg/day--at least for women; men require less. Assuming that's the number they used, then one tablespoon of Special Dark Cocoa has 2.7 mg of iron. Beef tenderloin has about 1 mg per ounce. Oh, and also note that regular Hershey's Cocoa has only 4% of your iron per tablespoon, or 0.72 mg. So make it dark! The Special Dark variety also has the benefit of making your chocolate recipes turn out very nearly black. It's quite cool.

Thing is, how do I consume this lovely stuff without using milk? For calcium-rich foods also interfere with iron absorption. Well, one possibility is molasses, which is just about as iron-rich, tablespoon for tablespoon, as our Hershey Dark there. So maybe I make myself a little drink of hot water, cocoa, and molasses. Could throw in some spices for flavor. Hm. Would be better with hot milk, but doesn't sound too bad, all the same. Bottoms up.

P.S. Just be careful, since, as you know, molasses occasionally busts loose and goes on killing sprees.