Family Medicine North  
Iron Fact Sheet

Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, the compound needed to transport oxygen to the body’s cells. When iron stores are low, fewer red blood cells are produced and iron deficiency anemia can develop.

To have healthy blood and muscles, certain amounts of iron are needed in the diet daily:

  • Men 19-51+ years: 10 mg/day
  • Women 19-50+ years: 15 mg/day
  • 51+ years: 10 mg/day
  • Pregnancy: 30 mg/day (achieved with supplementation)
  • Lactation: 15 mg/day

To improve your intake of iron include a variety of food sources daily and review these helpful hints:

  • At each meal eat a food high in vitamin C, including: broccoli, melon, brussel sprouts, potatoes, cauliflower, raw cabbage, citrus fruits and juices, turnips, green peppers, tomatoes, leafy greens, and lemonade.
  • When cooking vegetables and meats use as little water as possible and save the water for later use in soups and sauces. This will lessen iron lost in cooking.
  • Drink tea less frequently at mealtime and decrease your intake of antacids. These items decrease the amount of iron your body is able to absorb.
  • Cook acidic foods (tomatoes, tomato sauce) in iron skillets to add small amounts of iron to your food.

The iron found in meat, fish, and poultry is most readily absorbed. However, a vegetarian diet can be adequate in iron.

Best sources (9-19 mg):

  • ¾ cup Total, Product 19, Most, Corn Bran, Fortified Oat Flakes, Bran Flakes, Life, Cream of Wheat, Oatmeal
  • 1 ½ cup Kix
  • 3 oz. Beef liver

Good sources (4-8 mg):

  • ¾ cup flavored oatmeal, All Bran, Cheerios, Fruit n’ Fiber, Special K, Raisin Bran, Grapenut Flakes
  • ½ cup tofu
  • 1 cup lima beans or lentils
  • 3 oz. lean beef
  • 3 oz. chicken liver or gizzards
  • 2 T. Ovaltine

Fair sources ( 1-3 mg):

  • 1 English muffin
  • ½ cup enriched rice
  • 1 cup legumes, chick peas, baked beans, brussel sprouts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium avocado
  • ½ cup spinach
  • ½ cup prune juice
  • 5 dried apricots
  • 10 dried prunes
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 oz. almonds, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 3 oz. chicken, turkey, flounder, haddock
  • 1 T. molasses

For more information: