Iron intake and dietary sources

Published April 15, 2014

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In search of a balanced diet, good health, and plenty of energy, many people look to their iron levels. Generally speaking, females aged between 19 and 50 should be getting about 18mg per day of this nutrient, and males of the same age require 8mg per day. This number soars for pregnant women who need as much as 27mg per day no matter their age1.

To ensure you’re getting all the iron required, it’s important to consume some of the most iron-rich foods available and consider the possibility of adding iron supplement to your diet if your doctor feels this is appropriate.

Heme iron – or the kind you find in meat – is common. Based on a serving size of about 85 grams, you will find high quantities of the nutrient in many foods. In roast chicken, the dark meat will have about 1.1mg, while the light has approximately 0.9mg.2 Pan-fried chicken liver offers a whopping 11mg per serving – more than the RDI for some people.2

Many forms of beef (chuck, blade roast, lean or braised) contain about 3.1mg per 85 gram serving. The dark meat of roast turkey offers 2mg per 85g. Oysters are also very high in iron, containing 5.7mg in an 85g serving.2

Non-heme iron is found in items such as cereals, grains and vegetables, and is a good way to add more of this nutrient to your diet. Just three-quarters of a cup of iron-fortified cereal will give you 18mg of iron, while a pack of oatmeal can offer as much as 11mg in a serving.2 Half a cup of fresh spinach provides 3.2mg, and the same amount of raw, firm tofu has about 3.4mg.

Many beans also contain high quantities of iron, so be sure to check packaging to see how much you’re getting from each serve and speak with a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your iron intake.

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