Anemia is one of the most common health issues for people with menstrual cycles. Whether you are simply trying to stay fit and get lots of exercise without feeling exhausted, have smoother periods, or trying to conceive, it's crucial to have healthy levels of iron and B-12.
Heme iron, found in meat, has higher absorption rates than nonheme iron found in vegetables. Liver is a super food in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is rich in heme iron and B vitamins, as well as other essential minerals, and easy for the body to absorb. Vegetarian and vegan nonheme iron sources simply require more planning and consuming greater quantities. Many staples of vegetarian and vegan cooking are also high in phytic acid, which further inhibit absorption, so be sure to soak lentils and other legumes and grains until they germinate or sprout so that your body can actually access the nonheme iron.
B12 is especially crucial if you are trying to conceive. It is essential for your own health and for the neurological development of the fetus. Again, meat is the form of B12 most accessible to the body, and liver is a superfood for B vitamins. Vegetarians can get B12 from dairy, eggs, and fish. There are very few vegan sources of B12. However, many vegan products, such as soy milk, are fortified with B vitamins so check the label. Some seaweeds, including nori, have small amounts of B12. Brewers or nutritional yeast only has B12 if it is fortified, so read carefully.
What If I'm Eating Right, And I'm Still Anemic?
Whatever your dietary preferences, there's no shame in supplementing with vitamins. Ask your healthcare practitioner for a blood test to determine which vitamins and which dosages are safe and appropriate. Insurance typically covers vitamins if you are diagnosed with anemia.
Learn more about Iron & B12 here:
The liver is a powerhouse. It stores essential nutrients, which is why it is such a potent medicinal food. However it also filters toxins, so it's crucial that you consider the health and well being of the animals. Humane certified is one of the best labels to check for. Grass fed, pastured, and organic are also great labels. Unfortunately free range is a very misleading and unmeaningful label, so don't be deceived. The very best case is to know your farmer and buy locally from a farm with healthy free range animals.
Beef or Pork Liver Stir Fry
1/2 pound liver, thawed & rinsed (I prefer to soak overnight in milk)
Carrots or Sweet Potato
Bok Choy or Tat Soi
Sweet bell peppers (optional)
1-5 cloves garlic
Crushed red pepper or fresh habanero
Worcestershire sauce or Coconut Aminos
Toasted sesame oil
Fresh cilantro and or green onions
1) Heat oil. If using 1 clove garlic, finely mince. If using more garlic, thinly slice. Saute.
2) Add crushed red pepper or thinly sliced habanero, according to your heat preference.
3) Chop and add carrots/ sweet potato, red cabbage, and broccoli. Saute ~3-5 minutes, until half cooked.
4) Thinly slice long strips of liver. Stir in. Add balsamic glaze (1-3 tablespoons) and Worcestershire or Coconut Aminos (2-5 tablespoons). Stir in so sauce coats everything.
5) Fine chop bok choy or tat soi and stir in. Cook until liver is done. The meat should be buoyant or spongy, not stiff or chewy.
6) Salt to taste and serve over rice. Add thinly sliced sweet peppers if desired. Drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Garnish with fresh green onion, cilantro.
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