Getting Enough Iron

Topic Overview

How much dietary iron is recommended each day?

Recommended daily amounts of iron from food footnote 1, footnote 2



8 mg


Adult (age 50 and older)

8 mg

Adult (ages 19 to 50)

18 mg


27 mg


9 mg to10 mg

Adolescents (ages 9 to 18)


8 mg to15 mg


8 mg to11 mg

Children (birth to age 8)

Ages 4 to 8

10 mg

Ages 1 to 3

7 mg

Infants (7 months to 1 year)

11 mg

Infants (birth to 6 months)

0.27 mg

What foods are high in iron?

You can get iron from many foods. Beef and turkey are good sources of iron from meat or animal protein. Beans are good sources of iron from plants. Iron from meat is absorbed by your body more fully than iron from plants. Some foods can decrease the amount of iron that your body will absorb. But meat and vitamin C can help your body absorb more iron from plants. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian about how to be sure you are getting enough iron.

Iron–fortified foods include cereals.

Meat and alternatives footnote 3

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Beans, cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)


Ground meat (beef, lamb), cooked

2½ oz (75 mg)

1.3–2.2 mg

Chicken, cooked

2½ oz (75 mg)


Tofu, cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)


Turkey, cooked

2½ oz (75 mg)


Vegetables and fruit footnote 3

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Potato with skin, cooked

1 medium


Prune juice

½ cup (125 mL)


Spinach (cooked)

½ cup (125 mL)


Grain products footnote 3

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Cereal, dry

30 g (check label for serving size)


Oatmeal (instant), cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)


Pasta, egg noodles, enriched, cooked

½ cup (125 mL)




  1. Health Canada (2005). Dietary reference intakes: Reference values for elements. Available online:
  2. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2011). Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes, elements. Available online:
  3. Health Canada (2008). Nutrient value of some common foods. Ottawa: Health Canada. Also available online:


Current as ofNovember 7, 2018

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian

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