Getting Enough Iron

Topic Overview

How much dietary iron is recommended each day?

Recommended daily amounts of iron from food footnote 1

Men

Adult

8 mg

Women

Adult (age 50 and older)

8 mg

Adult (ages 19 to 50)

18 mg

Pregnant

27 mg

Lactating

9 mg to 10 mg

Adolescents (ages 9 to 18)

Girls

8 mg to 15 mg

Boys

8 mg to 11 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.

Protein foods footnote 2

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Beans, cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)

2.6–4.9

Ground meat (beef, lamb), cooked

2½ oz (75 g)

1.3–2.2

Chicken, cooked

2½ oz (75 g)

0.4–2.0

Tofu, cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)

2.4–8.0

Turkey, cooked

2½ oz (75 mg)

0.3–0.8

Vegetables and fruits footnote 2

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Potato with skin, cooked

1 medium

1.3–1.9

Prune juice

½ cup (125 mL)

1.6

Spinach (cooked)

½ cup (125 mL)

2.0–3.4

Whole grain foods footnote 2

Serving size

Iron (mg)

Cereal, dry

30 g (check label for serving size)

4.0–4.3

Oatmeal (instant), cooked

¾ cup (175 mL)

4.5–6.6

Pasta, egg noodles, enriched, cooked

½ cup (125 mL)

1.3

References

Citations

  1. Health Canada (2005). Dietary reference intakes: Reference values for elements. Available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_elements_tbl-eng.php.
  2. Health Canada (2008). Nutrient value of some common foods. Ottawa: Health Canada. Also available online: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/nutrient_value-valeurs_nutritives-eng.php.

Credits

Current as of: August 22, 2019

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

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

Thanks to our partners and endorsers: