Lucky Iron Fish is a product that claims it can help you effortlessly up your iron intake. 
Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

Concerned about getting enough iron from your diet? Lucky Iron Fish is a product that claims it can help you effortlessly up your iron intake with a fish-shaped piece of iron. The company also promises to give an iron fish to a family in need in a developing country with each purchase.

Here's how it works: You drop the iron fish in a pot of water or any broth-based meal and bring to a boil. A couple drops of acid—such as lemon or vinegar—helps release the iron, but if you’re making something that’s already acidic—like anything tomato-based—you can leave out that step.

While the Lucky Iron Fish seems to be a good approach for developing countries that rely heavily on dishes like soups, stews, and rice, you don’t need to shell out the $25 for the product if you don’t want to, says Jamie Vespa, MS, RD. We have easy access to iron-rich foods (and foods that are fortified with iron) which can make a big difference.

Good dietary sources of iron include lean meat, seafood, poultry, beans, lentils, spinach, nuts, iron-fortified breakfast cereals and breads, and even some dried fruits such as raisins according to the NIH—and most people in the already U.S. get enough.

People who need to be careful to eat enough iron are women (especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding), frequent blood donors, those with iron-deficiency anemia, vegans, and vegetarians.

Adult men should aim to consume about 8mg of iron a day, and for women it’s 18mg and over—but it’s different if you eat a plant-based diet. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan who doesn’t eat meat, poultry, or seafood, you need almost twice the recommended amount because your body doesn’t absorb the type of iron in plant foods (nonheme iron) as well as it does the heme iron that’s found in animal foods, according to the NIH.  

Some tips to help your body better absorb iron: Eat iron-rich foods paired with vitamin C-rich foods such as broccoli, citrus, peppers, and tomatoes. Cooking in a cast-iron skillet also helps increase the amount of iron in your food.

Why is iron so important in your diet? Your body needs it to make hemoglobin, the proteins that carry oxygen in your red blood cells—and if you don’t get enough, you can become anemic. So whether you get it by eating leafy greens or getting a little help from a lucky iron fish, don’t skip out on this essential mineral.