For many years I have had dark circles under my eyes. Recently I have been told that certain foods could help out. Is this true or a myth, are there any food that should be avoided?
Dark circles can be a sign of an iron deficiency anaemia. This is a common problem, anaemia is the most common nutritional problem in the world but is easily treated in the most of cases by eating the right foods.
Anaemia is a sign of a lack oxygen getting to the body tissues. There are other several types of anaemia, but iron deficiency is the most common.
Our bodies need iron to produce haemoglobin, the red pigment which carries oxygen to the cells. Dark circles alone do not indicate anaemia, you will also suffer from constant tiredness, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, poor memory, frequent colds and infections, and pale skin.
It affects women more than men, partly because of the menstrual cycle and also because eating red meat, one of the richest sources of iron, red meat is thought to be bad for your heart and bowels, In fact, if the meat is lean and good quality, it can be a perfectly healthy food.
If you suspect you are iron deficient see your GP for a simple blood test and to avoid other potential causes of anaemia such as an ulcer. If you do lack iron, you might be prescribed some iron supplements. It’s also a good idea to look at boosting your iron intake.
The best sources of iron are liver (not recommended during pregnancy), lean red meat, venison, egg yolks, dried beans, tinned beans, baked beans, lentils and chickpeas (hummus is perfect).
Other good sources include soya mince, seaweed, fortified breakfast cereals, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Savoy cabbage, dried apricots, figs, oatmeal, prunes, broccoli, asparagus, wholemeal bread and brown rice.
The body doesn’t readily absorb iron from non-meat sources, but vitamin C will help.
The idea is to eat vitamin C rich foods in the same meal, this means vegetables that are as fresh and as lightly cooked, especially peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. Fruits such as kiwis, blueberries, blackcurrants, papaya, oranges and mangoes.
Tip: tea inhibits the absorption of iron, avoid having tea with meals or for a good hour before and after your meals.
Dark circles are not a sign of food intolerance. Food intolerance can explain some conditions such as eczema and IBS.
If you’ve had these dark rings for years, it could be that age rather than diet is the cause, it’s also influenced by things that damage the skin, such as smoking.