Food is an essential part of your health, and iron-rich foods are a crucial part of a healthy diet. Iron helps to build red blood cells and carries oxygen throughout the body. In short, you need it!
The most common problem with iron is anemia, which occurs when you have too little of it in your body. Anemia can cause fatigue, nausea, dizziness, headaches, and more—so you definitely want to make sure you’re getting enough of this mineral.
To help you do that, we’ve rounded up some delicious recipes that are high in iron. Whether you’re looking for meat or vegetarian options (or both!), we’ve got plenty of options for you. Bon appétit!
Good Food With Iron
Iron is a mineral that serves several important functions, its main one being to carry oxygen throughout your body as a part of red blood cells.
It’s an essential nutrient, meaning you must get it from food. The Daily Value (DV) is 18 mg.
Interestingly, the amount of iron your body absorbs is partly based on how much you have stored.
A deficiency can occur if your intake is too low to replace the amount you lose every day.
Iron deficiency can cause anemia and lead to symptoms like fatigue. Menstruating women who don’t consume iron-rich foods are at a particularly high risk of deficiency.
Luckily, there are plenty of good food choices to help you meet your daily
Here are 12 healthy foods that are high in iron.
Shellfish is tasty and nutritious. All shellfish is high in iron, but clams, oysters, and mussels are particularly good sources.
For instance, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of clams may contain up to 3 mg of iron, which is 17% of the DV.
However, the iron content of clams is highly variable, and some types may contain much lower amounts.
The iron in shellfish is heme iron, which your body absorbs more easily than the non-heme iron found in plants.
A 3.5-ounce serving of clams also provides 26 grams of protein, 24% of the DV for vitamin C, and a whopping 4,125% of the DV for vitamin B12.
In fact, all shellfish is high in nutrients and has been shown to increase the level of heart-healthy HDL cholesterol in your blood.
Although there are legitimate concerns about mercury and toxins in certain types of fish and shellfish, the benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh the risks (6Trusted Source).
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of clams provides 17% of the DV for iron. Shellfish is also rich in many other nutrients and may increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels in your blood.
Spinach provides many health benefits but very few calories.
About 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw spinach contain 2.7 mg of iron, or 15% of the DV.
Although this is non-heme iron, which isn’t absorbed very well, spinach is also rich in vitamin C. This is important since vitamin C significantly boosts iron absorption.
Spinach is also rich in antioxidants called carotenoids, which may reduce your risk of cancer, decrease inflammation, and protect your eyes from disease.
Consuming spinach and other leafy greens with fat helps your body absorb the carotenoids, so make sure to eat a healthy fat like olive oil with your spinach.
Spinach provides 15% of the DV for iron per serving, along with several vitamins and minerals. It also contains important antioxidants.
3. Liver and other organ meats
Organ meats are extremely nutritious. Popular types include liver, kidneys, brain, and heart — all of which are high in iron.
For example, a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of beef liver contains 6.5 mg of iron, or 36% of the DV.
Organ meats are also high in protein and rich in B vitamins, copper, and selenium.
Liver is especially high in vitamin A, providing an impressive 1,049% of the DV per 3.5-ounce serving.
What’s more, organ meats are among the best sources of choline, an important nutrient for brain and liver health that many people don’t get enough of.
Organ meats are good sources of iron, and liver contains 36% of the DV per serving. Organ meats are also rich in many other nutrients, such as selenium, vitamin A, and choline.
Legumes are loaded with nutrients.
Some of the most common types of legumes are beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and soybeans.
They’re a great source of iron, especially for vegetarians. One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils contains 6.6 mg, which is 37% of the DV.
Beans like black beans, navy beans, and kidney beans can all help easily bump up your iron intake.
In fact, a half-cup (86-gram) serving of cooked black beans provides around 1.8 grams of iron, or 10% of the DV.
Legumes are also a good source of folate, magnesium, and potassium.
What’s more, studies have shown that beans and other legumes can reduce inflammation in people with diabetes. Legumes can also decrease heart disease risk for people with metabolic syndrome.
Additionally, legumes may help you lose weight. They’re very high in soluble fiber, which can increase feelings of fullness and reduce calorie intake.
In one study, a high fiber diet containing beans was shown to be as effective as a low carb diet for weight loss.
To maximize iron absorption, consume legumes with foods high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, greens, or citrus fruits.
One cup (198 grams) of cooked lentils provides 37% of the DV for iron. Legumes are also high in folate, magnesium, potassium, and fiber and may even aid weight loss.
5. Red meat
Red meat is satisfying and nutritious.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of ground beef contains 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the DV.
Meat is also rich in protein, zinc, selenium, and several B vitamins.
Researchers have suggested that iron deficiency may be less likely in people who eat meat, poultry, and fish on a regular basis.
In fact, red meat is probably the single most easily accessible source of heme iron, potentially making it an important food for people who are prone to anemia.
In one study looking at changes in iron stores after aerobic exercise, women who consumed meat retained iron better than those who took iron supplements.
One serving of ground beef contains 15% of the DV for iron and is one of the most easily accessible sources of heme iron. It’s also rich in B vitamins, zinc, selenium, and high quality protein.
6. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a tasty, portable snack.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds contains 2.5 mg of iron, which is 14% of the DV.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin K, zinc, and manganese. They’re also among the best sources of magnesium, which many people are low in.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains 40% of the DV for magnesium, which helps reduce your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, and depression.
Pumpkin seeds provide 14% of the DV for iron per 1-ounce serving. They’re also a good source of several other nutrients, particularly magnesium.
Quinoa is a popular grain known as a pseudocereal. One cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa provides 2.8 mg of iron, which is 16% of the DV.
Furthermore, quinoa contains no gluten, making it a good choice for people with celiac disease or other forms of gluten intolerance.
Quinoa is also higher in protein than many other grains, as well as rich in folate, magnesium, copper, manganese, and many other nutrients.
In addition, quinoa has more antioxidant activity than many other grains. Antioxidants help protect your cells from damage from free radicals, which are formed during metabolism and in response to stress.
Quinoa provides 16% of the DV for iron per serving. It also contains no gluten and is high in protein, folate, minerals, and antioxidants.
Turkey meat is a healthy and delicious food. It’s also a good source of iron, especially dark turkey meat.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of dark turkey meat has 1.4 mg of iron, which is 8% of the DV.
In comparison, the same amount of white turkey meat contains only 0.7 mg.
Dark turkey meat also packs an impressive 28 grams of protein per serving and several B vitamins and minerals, including 32% of the DV for zinc and 57% of the DV for selenium.
Consuming high protein foods like turkey may aid weight loss, as protein makes you feel full and increases your metabolic rate after a meal.
High protein intake can also help prevent the muscle loss that occurs during weight loss and the aging process.
Turkey provides 13% of the DV for iron and is a good source of several vitamins and minerals. Its high protein content promotes fullness, increases metabolism, and prevents muscle loss
Broccoli is incredibly nutritious. A 1-cup (156-gram) serving of cooked broccoli contains 1 mg of iron, which is 6% of the DV.
What’s more, a serving of broccoli also packs 112% of the DV for vitamin C, which helps your body absorb the iron better.
The same serving size is also high in folate and provides 5 grams of fiber, as well as some vitamin K. Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and cabbage.
Cruciferous vegetables contain indole, sulforaphane, and glucosinolates, which are plant compounds believed to protect against cancer.
One serving of broccoli provides 6% of the DV for iron and is very high in vitamins C, K, and folate. It may also help reduce cancer risk.
Tofu is a soy-based food that’s popular among vegetarians and in some Asian countries.
A half-cup (126-gram) serving provides 3.4 mg of iron, which is 19% of the DV (48Trusted Source).
Tofu is also a good source of thiamine and several minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and selenium. In addition, it provides 22 grams of protein per serving.
Tofu contains unique compounds called isoflavones, which have been linked to improved insulin sensitivity, a decreased risk of heart disease, and relief from menopausal symptoms.
Tofu provides 19% of the DV for iron per serving and is rich in protein and minerals. Its isoflavones may improve heart health and relieve menopausal symptoms.
11. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is incredibly delicious and nutritious.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving contains 3.4 mg of iron, which is 19% of the DV.
This small serving also packs 56% and 15% of the DVs for copper and magnesium, respectively.
In addition, it contains prebiotic fiber, which nourishes the friendly bacteria in your gut.
A study found that cocoa powder and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity than powders and juices made from acai berries and blueberries.
Studies have also shown that chocolate has beneficial effects on cholesterol and may reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
However, not all chocolate is created equal. It’s believed that compounds called flavanols are responsible for chocolate’s benefits, and the flavanol content of dark chocolate is much higher than that of milk chocolate.
Therefore, it’s best to consume chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa to get the maximum benefits.
A small serving of dark chocolate contains 19% of the DV for iron along with several minerals and prebiotic fiber that promotes gut health.
Fish is a highly nutritious ingredient, and certain varieties like tuna are especially high in iron.
In fact, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of canned tuna contains about 1.4 mg of iron, which is approximately 8% of the DV.
Fish is also brimming with omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of heart-healthy fat associated with a number of health benefits.
n particular, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to promote brain health, enhance immune function, and support healthy growth and development.
Fish also contains several other essential nutrients, including niacin, selenium, and vitamin B12.
Besides tuna, haddock, mackerel, and sardines are a few other examples of iron-rich fish that you can also include in your diet.
A serving of canned tuna can provide about 8% of the DV for iron. Fish is also a good source of several other important nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
The bottom line
Iron is an important mineral that must be consumed regularly as your body cannot produce it on its own.
Yet, it should be noted that some people need to limit their intake of red meat and other foods high in heme iron.
However, most people are easily able to regulate the amount they absorb from food.
Remember that if you don’t eat meat or fish, you can boost absorption by including a source of vitamin C when eating plant sources of iron.
Salmon roe is a Japanese sushi delicacy but may likewise be enjoyed in other cultures atop salads, pancakes, flatbreads, and crackers. Plus, you can eat it on its own in small amounts.
In general, fish roe is a good source of nutrients like phosphorus, selenium, folate, and vitamins A, B12, and D. It’s also rich in choline, which supports nerve and liver health, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may support eye health.
Just 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of salmon roe provides:
- Calories: 25
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 1 gram
- Calcium: 2% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 3% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 10% of the DV
Keep in mind that specific nutrient information on salmon roe is limited. Most salmon roe likely provides more fat than the example above.
Nonetheless, some research indicates that salmon roe is a good source of vitamin E. Other studies suggest that it contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in higher concentrations than in the head and skin of salmon.
Salmon roe is a good source of vitamin E and heart-friendly omega-3 fatty acids. Like other fish roe, it may also provide several essential minerals and vitamins.
Potential health benefits of salmon roe
Although specific nutrient data for salmon roe is limited, its high omega-3, vitamin A, and calcium contents may confer health benefits.
Here are several potential health benefits of salmon eggs.
May improve heart health
Salmon roe is a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
These fats have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential and may improve heart health by lowering risk factors of heart disease, such as blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.
Most dietary intake of omega-3 comes from seafood and fatty fish like salmon, although you can also take supplements.
Keep in mind that specific research on salmon roe’s effects on heart health is limited.
May aid vision
Vitamin A is integral for eye health. It has antioxidant effects and protects against night blindness and permanent blindness, which may occur if you’re deficient in this vitamin for long periods.
Salmon roe packs 10% of the DV for this vitamin in just 1 tablespoon (15 grams), so eating it as part of a balanced diet may support good vision.
May support bone health
Salmon roe also offers some calcium, a mineral that’s essential for bone health. Just 1 tablespoon (15 grams) supplies 2% of the DV.
Most of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones in a mineralized form with phosphorus. This gives bones their density and strength.
Vitamin D is known to enhance the uptake of calcium from foods and also support overall bone health. Although salmon roe’s vitamin D content is unclear, mixed fish roe contains small amounts.
Pair salmon roe with vitamin D-rich foods like salmon flesh, cod liver oil, or cheese to optimize your calcium absorption.
Although nutrient data for salmon roe is limited, it may support heart, eye, and bone health.
Potential side effects of salmon roe
Despite salmon roe’s health benefits, you should be aware of a few potential drawbacks.
May cause allergic reactions
Several reports note allergic reactions to fish roe, including salmon roe. In fact, fish roe is the sixth most common food allergen in Japan.
Symptoms range from mild abdominal pain, itchy throat, and coughing to severe, life-threatening anaphylaxis and hospitalization.
An allergic reaction to salmon roe is possible in persons who usually tolerate fish and other seafood. As such, you should immediately seek medical help if you notice any of these symptom.
An allergist can also conduct a skin-prick test to assess for salmon roe allergy.
how much iron per day
Too much or too little iron in your diet can lead to health issues like liver problems, iron-deficiency anemia, and heart damage.
Naturally, you may wonder just how much iron is an ideal amount. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.
While generalized recommendations offer some guidance, your specific iron needs are influenced by many factors, including age, sex, and diet.
This article discusses how much iron you may need, factors impacting those needs, and how to tell if you’re not getting the right amount.
Iron — what is it and why is it important?
Iron is a nutrient that plays a vital role in oxygen transport. It binds to hemoglobin, a special protein, and helps it carry red blood cells from your lungs to other tissues in your body (1Trusted Source).
Iron is naturally available in the foods you eat, and there are two main types — heme and nonheme iron.
The term “heme” is derived from a Greek word that loosely translates to “blood.” This type of iron comes from animal protein, such as poultry, fish, and beef.
On the other hand, nonheme iron comes from plant sources, including legumes, leafy greens, and nuts.
Heme iron is easiest for your body to absorb and is 14–18% bioavailable in mixed diets. Nonheme iron, the iron source in vegetarian diets, has a bioavailability of 5–12% (2Trusted Source).
Iron is an essential nutrient. Two types of iron are found in the human diet — heme iron comes from animal protein, while nonheme iron comes from plants. Your body can absorb heme iron more readily.
Sex and age influence your needs
Iron needs vary depending on sex and age.
Infants and children (to age 13)
Boys’ and girls’ iron needs from infancy and into late childhood are identical. This is because menstruation does not typically begin before age 13.
Newborn babies need the least amount of iron from their diet. They’re born with a store of iron, absorbed from their mother’s blood while in the womb.
The Adequate Intake (AI) for infants from birth and up to the first 6 months is 0.27 mg daily. The AI is simply an average of what is normally consumed by healthy, breastfed infants. Thus, their needs are met through breastfeeding alone or from formula.
Babies who spent less time in the womb, such as premature babies, need more iron than full-term infants. The same holds true for babies with low birth weight.
However, AIs for premature and low-birthweight infants have not been established. In these instances, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about your baby’s iron needs.
Into the second 6 months of life, 7- to 12-month-old infants should get significantly more iron, at 11 mg daily, according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).
This is due to their rapidly developing brains and blood supply needs. Iron is crucial to proper brain development.
As they age into toddlers, or between the ages of 1 and 3, your child’s iron needs are 7 mg daily. Then, from ages 4 to 8, boys and girls should get 10 mg of iron from their diet each day.
In later childhood, from 9 to 13 years, kids need 8 mg of dietary iron daily.
Between the ages of 14 and 18, boys’ RDA for iron is 11 mg. This helps supports growth spurts common at this age.
Teenaged girls need more iron than boys their age — 15 mg daily. This is because they need to not only support growth but also compensate for iron lost through menstruation.
Significant physical and brain growth has slowed by age 19. Thus, men’s iron needs stabilize during adulthood.
Whether 19 or 99, younger and older adult men alike need 8 mg daily to maintain their health.
Highly-active men, such as endurance athletes, may need more than this amount, as your body loses iron through sweat.
The typical adult — male or female — stores between 1–3 grams of iron in their body. Simultaneously, about 1 mg is lost daily due to the shedding of the skin and mucosal surfaces like that lining your gut.
Women who menstruate need more iron. This is because blood contains about 70% of your body’s iron. At the beginning of the menstrual cycle, the body loses about 2 mg daily, as blood is shed from the lining of the uterus.
Between 19 and 50 years of age, women need 18 mg of iron per day. Female athletes have higher needs to account for the amount of iron lost to sweating.
Older women, ages 51 and older, need 8 mg of iron per day. This accounts for the onset of menopause, which is marked by the end of menstruation.
Transgender teens and adults
Though official recommendations are unavailable, adult transgender men who have medically transitioned are often advised to adhere to the iron recommendation of 8 mg per day for cisgender men once menstruation has ceased.
Adult transgender women who have medically transitioned should also get 8 mg daily.
If you haven’t taken hormones or undergone other steps to medically transition, your iron needs may differ.
Likewise, the iron needs of teen transgender folks — both of those who have medically transitioned and those who have not — may differ from adult needs.
Therefore, if you’re transgender, it’s best to discuss your iron needs with your healthcare provider. They can help determine the correct dosage for your individual needs.
Iron needs during pregnancy and lactation
During pregnancy, your iron needs rise to 27 mg to support the needs of the fetu.
If you’re predominantly breastfeeding, your iron needs drop from levels needed during pregnancy. In these circumstances, women need 9–10 mg of iron, depending on their age. These levels accommodate the woman’s own needs, as well as the baby’s.
Lactating produces a hormone called prolactin, which may inhibit menstruation. Therefore, these lower recommendations assume that iron is not being lost through menstruation.
Iron needs overview
Here’s a visual summary of daily iron needs according to biological sex and age:
|Age group||Male (mg/day)||Female (mg/day)|
|Birth to 6 months||0.27||0.27|
|Lactation (younger than 18 years)||—||10|
|Lactation (19–50 years)||—||9|
Iron needs vary according to age and sex. Infants, children, and teens have a broad range of iron needs. Adult men’s needs are more stable, while women’s fluctuate according to age and whether or not they’re pregnant or nursing.
Getting just the right amount
Interestingly, the way in which your body metabolizes iron is unique, as it doesn’t excrete this mineral and instead recycles and retains it.
Thus, getting too much or too little iron can be a concern.
Too much iron
Iron is concentrated in human blood. Because of this, people who receive regular blood transfusions, such as those in cancer therapy, may be at risk for getting too much iron (7Trusted Source).
This condition is known as iron overload. It happens because your body cannot rid itself of its iron stores before being supplied with more from the blood transfusion.
While iron is necessary, too much could be toxic and damage your liver, heart, and other vital organs.
However, iron overload is not a concern when your iron comes from diet alone — unless you have a condition like hemochromatosis, which causes increased absorption of iron in your digestive tract.
Keep in mind that the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) — the highest amount you can safely consume — is 40–45 mg per day for iron, depending on your sex and age.
Not enough iron
Pregnant women, infants, endurance athletes, and teenage girls are most at risk of iron deficiency.
Babies who are not getting adequate iron may be slow to gain weight. They may also seem pale, tired, lack appetite, get sick more often, and be irritable.
Iron deficiency can also lead to poor concentration, a short attention span, and negative effects on children’s academic performance (4).
Not getting enough iron could also cause iron-deficiency anemia, the most common nutritional deficiency in the world (2Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).
Symptoms to look for
If you have this condition, your body doesn’t have enough iron to form new red blood cells. It’s typically caused by either a diet deficient in iron or by chronic blood losses (6Trusted Source).
If you’re not getting enough iron, you may feel weak, fatigued, and bruise easily. You may be pale, feel anxious, or have cold hands and feet or brittle nails. You might also experience abnormal cravings, such as a desire to eat soil — a condition known as pica (13Trusted Source).
Alternately, if you experience joint pain or a change in skin tone, or if you get sick easily, you might be getting too much iron. You are especially at risk if you regularly receive blood transfusions (14Trusted Source).
If you’re concerned that you’re getting too much or too little iron, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider.
Getting too much iron may be a concern for people who receive blood transfusions regularly and may result in toxicity. Low iron intake could lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
Other circumstances that impact iron needs
Other circumstances may affect your iron needs, such as dietary restrictions, medications, and health conditions.
While the Western diet typically contains 7 mg of iron for every 1,000 calories, only an estimated 1–2 mg of iron will be absorbed by your body.
People who follow a vegan diet need 1.8 times the RDA, compared with those who eat meat. This is due to the fact that nonheme iron is not as readily available to your body as heme iron.
For example, a healthy adult woman between the ages of 19 and 50 who eats animal protein regularly may need 18 mg of iron daily. If she follows a vegan diet instead, she’ll need about 32 mg.
Some medications may deplete or interact with iron. This can alter your iron needs.
For instance, iron supplements interfere with the effectiveness of Levodopa, a common medication for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, as well as Levothyroxine, used to treat thyroid cancer and goiter.
Proton pump inhibitors, such as those used to treat gastric reflux, adversely affect how iron is absorbed. Taking these consistently for several years may increase your iron needs.
If you’re taking any of these medications, speak to your healthcare provider to determine your optimal iron needs.
Ongoing health conditions
Certain health conditions may affect your iron needs.
For instance, if you experience gastrointestinal bleeding from ulcers or cancer, the added blood loss may mean you need extra iron. Getting kidney dialysis regularly also drives up your iron needs (6Trusted Source).
What’s more, being deficient in vitamin A may interfere with your ability to efficiently absorb iron. This may increase your iron needs.
Talk to your health provider if you feel you may not be getting adequate iron from your diet.
Medications, health conditions, and any dietary restrictions can impact how much iron you should be getting each day. For instance, vegans and vegetarians should get 1.8 times the RDAs for iron each day.
How to get enough iron in your diet
Heme iron is the richest and most efficiently absorbed type. It’s most concentrated in shellfish, organ meats, poultry, and eggs.
Rich vegetarian sources of iron include chickpeas, quinoa, seeds, beans, fortified cereals, and leafy greens.
Plus, dark chocolate contains a surprising amount of iron, at 19% of the Daily Value (DV) per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving (19Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that RDAs are specific to sex and age groups, while product labels generally refer to the DV. The DV is a fixed number, independent of sex or age. The established DV for iron across biological sexes and ages is 18 mg.
What’s more, what you eat alongside iron-rich foods matters. Pairing your high-iron foods with foods rich in vitamin C like fruits and vegetables increases iron absorption.
For instance, drinking orange juice with a plate of eggs increases your body’s absorption of the iron in eggs.
Conversely, accompanying your high-iron foods with calcium-rich foods, such as drinking milk with a plate of eggs, inhibits iron absorption. Therefore, it’s best to consume calcium-rich foods at a separate time.
If you believe you need to supplement your diet, commercial iron supplements deliver iron in the form of ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate, and ferrous gluconate.
These contain varying amounts of elemental iron. Elemental iron refers to the amount of iron in a supplement that your body can absorb. Ferrous fumarate delivers the most, at 33%, and ferrous gluconate the least, at 12%.
Supplementing with iron may cause constipation and intestinal discomfort, so it’s best to get iron from foods whenever possible.
It’s typically recommended that children or infants not consume iron supplements and instead get iron from their diet. If your child was born prematurely or with a low birth weight, speak to your healthcare provider about their iron needs.
Multivitamins typically deliver 18 mg of iron, or 100% of the DV. Supplements containing only iron may pack around 360% of the DV. Getting more than 45 mg of iron daily is associated with intestinal distress and constipation in adults.
Regularly eating iron-rich foods helps keep your iron levels healthy, and pairing them with foods rich in vitamin C enhances iron absorption. If you feel like you’re getting too much or too little iron, consult a health professional.
The bottom line
Iron needs are most stable in men. Women’s needs fluctuate according to age and whether or not they’re pregnant or nursing.
Your ideal iron intake is also affected by other factors, such as dietary restrictions, ongoing health issues, and whether or not you’re taking certain medications.
Heme iron is most readily absorbed by your body and comes from animal protein. Pairing iron with vitamin C helps your body absorb it best.
Keep in mind that if you rely solely on nonheme (plant-based) iron, you need to consume more iron overall.
Getting too much iron could lead to iron overload, while not getting enough may lead to iron deficiency anemia.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about how much iron you’re getting.