Iron-Rich Food

Iron is essential for a number of bodily functions, including the formation of hemoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen throughout your body. A deficiency can lead to anemia, a condition that causes fatigue, dizziness, and weakness. Fortunately, getting enough of this mineral is easy with the right foods. A well-balanced diet rich in foods such as iron-fortified breakfast cereals, lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, and soy products can help you meet your recommended daily intake.

Dietary iron is available in two forms: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal products, while nonheme iron is in plant-based foods and dietary supplements. Foods high in heme iron are more easily absorbed than those rich in nonheme iron. Heme iron is also absorbed better when eaten with vitamin C, which helps boost absorption.

Many foods are high in both types of iron. However, the most common sources of heme iron are fish, poultry, red meats, and pork. Vegetarians may be at increased risk of iron deficiency due to a lack of heme iron in their diet. Nonheme iron is found in a wide range of foods, and some are particularly good sources, such as leafy vegetables (such as spinach), dried fruits, fortified breakfast cereals, and whole grains.

Your daily requirements of iron vary depending on your age and sex, so consult a health care professional to determine your specific needs. In general, people should aim to get at least 18 mg of iron per day from their diets.

A serving of cooked clams or oysters provides an excellent source of iron, with each 3-ounce serving providing over 43% of the DV. Shellfish are also high in zinc, another nutrient important for immune function and wound healing.

One cup of cooked spinach provides 6.4 milligrams of iron, which is over 35% of the DV. Leafy greens are also a great source of calcium and vitamin A, and can help promote healthy bones.

Iron-fortified breakfast cereals are a convenient and affordable way to get your daily dose of this nutrient. A half cup of instant grits, for example, offers 7.1 mg of iron, as well as fiber and vitamin C.

Edamame is a protein-packed snack that’s loaded with iron. Each serving of edamame provides 3.5 mg of the nutrient, and is also an excellent source of potassium and vitamins A and C.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children are at particular risk of iron deficiency. They need more heme iron than other adults, and need to make sure they’re eating plenty of high-quality heme and nonheme foods. Infants born prematurely or with low birth weight are also at an increased risk of iron deficiency. Breastfeeding mothers should be sure to eat a variety of iron-rich foods and talk to their health care providers about the best way to supplement with additional iron while they’re nursing.