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Learn more about your recommended daily iron intake and incorporating iron-rich foods into your
daily meals.

Learn more about your recommended daily iron intake and incorporating iron-rich foods into your
daily meals.

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What is iron?

Iron is a naturally occurring mineral that is an important part of hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen to all parts of the body). As such, the body needs adequate amounts of iron for normal body functions such as growth, development, and metabolism.1

DID YOU KNOW? Iron is represented by the symbol [Fe] in medicine and science.

Did you know?

Iron is represented by the symbol [Fe] in medicine and science.

What is my recommended daily iron intake?

Everybody’s iron nutritional requirements will differ depending on their age, gender, and other health and dietary characteristics. The information below is based on healthy individuals without health issues.1

Recommended iron intake for men1

graphic of male
  • 11 mg

    14 to 18 years old

  • 8 mg

    19 years and older

Recommended iron intake for women1

graphic of female
  • 15 mg

    14 to 18 years old

  • 18 mg

    19 to 50 years old

  • 8 mg

    51 years and older

Recommended iron intake for pregnant women1

graphic of a pregnant woman
  • 27 mg

    14 to 50 years old

Recommended iron intake for breastfeeding women1

graphic of woman nursing a baby
  • 9-10 mg

    14 to 50 years old

What is my recommended daily iron intake if I am a vegetarian?

Since vegetarians do not eat meat, they are unable to absorb iron from meats. Instead, they receive all their iron from plant-based foods, which is generally more difficult to absorb.1

The recommended daily intake of iron for vegetarians is usually 1.8 times greater than for people who eat meat.1

graphic of spinach
  • 1.8x greater for vegetarians

What are some iron-rich foods that I can incorporate into my daily meals?

Certain foods have higher levels of iron than others. Below are some of the top 10 iron-rich foods that you can incorporate into your daily meals.1

graphic of Oysters
  • Oysters

    ● 3 ounces has 8 mg of iron
    ● Cooked with moist heat

  • 44% of daily value

graphic ofWhite beans (canned)
  • White beans (canned)

    ● 1 cup has 8 mg of iron

  • 44% of daily value

graphic of Dark chocolate
  • Dark chocolate

    ● 3 ounces has 7 mg of iron
    ● Must be 45-69% cacao solids

  • 39% of daily value

graphic of Liver (beef)
  • Liver (beef)

    ● 3 ounces has 5 mg of iron
    ● Pan fried

  • 28% of daily value

graphic of Lentils
  • Lentils

    12 cup has 3 mg of iron
    ● Boiled and drained

  • 17% of daily value

graphic of spinach
  • Spinach

    12 cup has 3 mg of iron
    ● Boiled and drained

  • 17% of daily value

graphic of Tofu
  • Tofu (firm)

    12 cup has 3 mg of iron

  • 17% of daily value

graphic of Kidney beans
  • Kidney beans (canned)

    12 cup has 2 mg of iron

  • 11% of daily value

graphic of sardines
  • Sardines (canned Atlantic)

    12 cup has 2 mg of iron

  • 11% of daily value

graphic of chickpeas
  • Chickpeas

    12 cup has 2 mg of iron
    ● Boiled and drained

  • 11% of daily value

It is important to note that treating iron-deficiency anemia cannot be done with diet alone. Talk to your doctor about how iron-rich foods can complement your daily iron supplements.

graphic of orange and glass full of liquid

Did you know?

Did you know that drinking orange juice or eating foods that are rich in vitamin C can help with how your body absorbs iron?1

Reference:

1. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Iron: fact sheet for health professionals. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/#change. Updated April 1, 2019. Accessed October 4, 2018.