Appetite for Life


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Anaemia happens when there is not enough oxygen carried around the body. Anaemia can make people feel like not eating, tired, weak and short of breath. It can make it harder for people to concentrate and recover from illness.

There are many reasons why someone may have anaemia. Diet can be one of those reasons. Not eating enough foods containing iron, vitamin B12 or folate, can cause anaemia.


  • Iron is a mineral found in animal foods, such as:
    • red meat
    • chicken
    • fish
    • eggs
    • liver and kidney.
  • See the ‘High Iron Foods’ page for more information about good sources of iron.

Vitamin B12

  • Vitamin B12 is a vitamin found in animal foods such as:
    • red meat
    • fish
    • eggs
    • liver
    • milk, cheese, yoghurt
    • oysters and mussels.


  • Folate is a vitamin found in:
    • legumes
    • lentils
    • nuts
    • fruit
    • leafy green vegetables.
  • Many breakfast cereals and bread have folate added to them to help increase the folate in your diet.

What should I eat?

  • Eat a palm size piece of lean meat or chicken, or piece of fish the size of your hand every day.
  • If you are vegetarian, have eggs or legumes instead. For example, baked beans or eggs on toast.
  • Eat at least three serves of dairy foods every day. A serve is a glass of milk, a tub of yoghurt or two slices of cheese.
  • Eat some green leafy vegetables daily.
  • To help absorb iron, try eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C such as:
    • Berries (strawberries, raspberries)
    • Citrus fruit (oranges, lemons)
    • Kiwi fruit
    • Tomato
    • Capsicum
    • Some drinks can block the absorption of iron. Avoid drinking tea and coffee with your meals and snacks. Drink these between your meals and snacks.

This general advice was accurate at the time of publication (June 2020). For more information about nutrition and your individual needs, see your GP  or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.