Iron is needed in over 90 enzymes. It is necessary for transportation of oxygen to the body or production of energy. It is essential for growth – particularly during pregnancy, breastfeeding, the first 2 years of life and during adolescent growth. It is important for normal brain development and for a strong immunity.
The recommended daily intake for iron is 8mg/day for men and post-menopausal women, and 18mg per day for younger women.
The upper tolerable limit is 45mg per day, however to correct iron deficiency up to 200mg per day may be necessary.
- Iron comes in haem and non-haem sources.
- Haem iron comes from animal protein sources i.e meat. It is more readily absorbed – 20-25 percent is absorbed.
- Non-haem iron comes from grains, legumes and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Fibre, phytic acid (in grains and legumes), egg, tea, coffee and other minerals (zinc & calcium) reduce iron absorption- particularly non-haem iron absorption.
- Vitamin C enhances non-haem iron absorption by up to 60 percent.
Natural whole-food sources of iron
|Food||mg per serve|
|Chicken liver cooked (100g)||13mg|
|Beef Liver grilled (100g)||6.5mg|
|Apricots dried (3 pieces)||5mg|
|Lentils cooked (1/2 cup)||4mg|
|Quinoa cooked (1 cup)||4mg|
|Molasses (1 Tbsp)||3.5mg|
|Tofu firm (1/2 cup)||3.4mg|
|Spinach cooked (1/2 cup)||3mg|
|Lean beef cooked (100g)||3mg|
|Beans cooked (1/2 cup)||3mg|
|Prune juice (1 cup)||3mg|
|Red rice cooked (1 cup)||2.5mg|
|Chia seeds (15g)||2.5mg|
|Lean lamb or pork cooked (100g)||2.5mg|
|Raisins (1/2 cup)||1.5mg|
|Chicken cooked (100g)||1.3mg|
|Wheatgerm (2 Tbsp)||1.3mg|
|Brown rice cooked (1 cup)||1mg|
|White fish cooked (100g)||1mg|
|Egg (1 large)||1mg|
|Soy milk (250ml)||1mg|
|Porridge (3/4 cup)||1mg|
|Avocado (1/2 med)||1mg|
|Tomato juice (1 cup)||1mg|
|Nuts mixed (30g)||1mg|
|Sunflower seeds (1 Tbsp)||1mg|
|Pumpkin seeds (1 Tbsp)||1mg|
|Potato cooked (1 med)||0.8mg|
|White rice cooked (1 cup)||0.5mg|