I'm a regular (once a month) platelets donor at my local
blood bank. It's not the kind that pays people. It's my way
of giving back to the community even if I don't have a lot of
money to donate to a cause. My major iron source is
blackstrap molasses. You can find it in baking/cooking
sections or in the pancake syrup sections of most grocery
stores. I take a heaping tablespoonful, usually right out of
the bottle, then drink a cup of water. Make sure its blackstrap
molasses, as it has 20% of your daily requirement .
Blackstrap molasses also is a very good source of some
other important nutrients including manganese, copper,
potassium, magnesium, selenium, B-6 and calcium.
I also take a vegan iron supplement, VegLife vegan iron.
It has 25 mg. iron, vitamin C, folate, and B-12. The other
ingredients are to support maximum absorption.
Be aware that certain foods and beverages "cancel out"
iron in your system. For example, coffee, tea and dairy foods
will all have this effect. If you want to have a meal with dairy
in it, don't have iron-rich food sources in your meal. Have a
separate meal with iron-rich foods: eggs, black beans, legumes,
raisins. Don't have a cup of coffee, glass of milk, or tea with
the meal. But - as you mentioned in your message, try to get a
lot of vitamin C rich foods at the same time.
Now that I regularly take blackstrap molasses first thing in the
morning with a "water chaser", I don't seem to need caffeine
as I had in the past. For a very long time I remember reading
and hearing that caffeinated beverages actually make a person
"crash", after a while, but I didn't understand why. Now - I know
it's because when the body relies on caffeine for "energy"
you're depleting an important nutrient, iron.
Try loading your meals with iron-rich foods and nutrients that
support absorption, like barbecue baked beans (using molasses
for the barbecue sauce) or a dairy-free bean and veggie burrito.