List of Foods High In Iron

Iron is a mineral that plays important functions in the body. The main function of iron is to supply oxygen to various parts of the body.

It is an essential micronutrient and you must take it in the food because the body can’t prepare it. Normally people are not getting a sufficient amount of iron in their foods so they become the victim of various diseases such as anemia, heart disease, circulatory problems, etc.

The amount of iron absorption is partly depended on how much you have stored.

The deficiency of iron occurs when you absorb less amount of iron than you lose per day. But fortunately, there are lots of foods high in iron available.  You can compensate for the iron deficiency by eating these foods.

The recommended daily intake of iron is 18 mg.

Iron types

There are two types of iron, Heme, and non-heme iron.

  1. Heme iron

This type of iron is easily absorbed by the body and is mainly found in meat, poultry, liver, and seafood.

You can absorb up to 30% of the heme iron that you consume. Eating meat boosts your iron level dramatically compared to eating non-heme iron.

  • Non-heme iron

Non-heme iron is commonly found in plant based foods such as vegetables and fruits. But the iron in these foods is not absorbed completely. Only 10-20% iron is absorbed.

Non-heme iron is found in nuts, legumes, potatoes, spinach, kale, figs, etc.

Some foods are fortified with iron such as tofu, cereal, bread, and grains. By eating these foods you can fulfill the deficiency of iron.

In this article, we will discus list of foods high in iron.

list of foods high in iron

Iron is obtained from these sources animals, vegetables, fruit, seafood, and fortified foods. A list of iron rich foods includes:

  1. Meat and Eggs
  2. Beef
  3. Lamb
  4. Turkey
  5. Chicken
  6. Pork
  7. Dried beef
  8. Liver
  9. Eggs
  10. Liverwurst
  11. Veal

Generally, organ meats are very nutritious, especially kidneys, brain, liver, and heart. All these organs are rich sources of iron.

100 grams of beef liver deliver 6 mg of iron, which is 36% of the DV for iron

Organ meats are also a rich source of proteins, vitamins, and other minerals.

100 grams of ground beef has 2.7 mg of iron or 15% of the DV for iron. Researchers have told that iron deficiency is found in those people who ate the meat of poultry and fish on regular basis.

To compensate for the deficiency of iron in a short time red meat is the best option. Red meat is the single source of heme iron for those people who are prone to anemia.

Turkey meat is also a good source of iron. 100 grams of turkey meat provides 1.4 mg of iron, which is 8% of the DV.  White turkey meat of the same amount provides 0.7 mg of iron.

  • Seafood
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Shrimp
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Haddock
  • Scallops
  • Shellfish

All of the above seafood foods are good sources of iron.

100 grams of clams contains 3 mg of iron or 17% of the DV. The content of iron in clams varies. Some types contain a high level of iron while some low level of iron.

Fishes are a good source of iron and have different varieties.

85 grams of tuna provides 1.4 mg of iron, which is 8% of the DV.

Besides tuna, other fishes such as haddock, sardines, mackerel, etc are an excellent source of iron which you should include in your meal.

  • Vegetable
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beet greens
  • String beans
  • Dandelion greens
  • Collards
  • Mustard
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower

Spinach has innumerable health benefits with low calories. One cup means 100 grams of chopped spinach delivers 2.7 mg of iron, which is 15% of the DV.

Spinach is a non-heme iron source that is not completely absorbed but it contains vitamin C which boosts the absorption of iron.

Besides the health benefits of Broccoli, it is a good source of iron. 155 grams or one cup of cooked broccoli contains 1 mg of iron or 6% of the DV for iron.

  • Fruits
  • Dates
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Prunes
  • Apricot
  • Apple
  • Dried apricot
  • Raisins
  • Peach
  • Banana
  • Bread and Cereal
  • Wheat products
  • Corn
  • Oat
  • Whole white Bread
  • Bran cereals
  • Rye bread
  • Enrich Rice
  • Pasta
  • Peanut
  • Maize
  • Beans and other fortified foods
  • Dried peas
  • Dried beans
  • Canned beans
  • Lentils corn syrup
  • Canned tomato products
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Tempeh

What are the Causes of Iron deficiency

Iron deficiency causes iron deficiency anemia. It is a condition in which the body has not to have enough red blood cells due to a lack of iron. The body needs iron for the production of red blood cells which circulate oxygen around the body.

When a person not getting a sufficient level of iron in his diet then he/she becomes the victim of iron deficiency anemia.

The main causes of iron deficiency anemia include:

  • Blood loss: blood contains iron within the red blood cell. Iron deficiency occurs when blood loss is happen. Usually, women develop iron deficiency anemia during heavy periods, because there is a huge loss of blood in menstruation. Other medical conditions such as hiatal hernia, colon polyp, colon cancer, peptic ulcer, etc are responsible for iron deficiency anemia.
  • Poor diet or lack of iron in the diet

The leading cause of iron deficiency anemia is a diet that lacks iron. Your body can’t prepare iron but you should consume it from external sources. when you consume foods that have little iron then you will develop iron deficiency anemia.

Always focus on foods high in iron. Foods are the natural source of iron.

  • Inability to absorb iron from the intestine

In the small intestine, iron is absorbed from foods into the bloodstream. Any disorder of the small intestines affects the absorption of iron. For example celiac disease, reduce the absorption of nutrients in the intestines, which can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Any surgery of the small intestine affects the absorption rate of nutrients.

  • Pregnancy

Iron deficiency anemia develops normally in pregnancy. Supplementation of iron is required during pregnancy.

During pregnancy, the fetus needs lots of iron so the mother fulfills this demand. Secondly, a pregnant woman has an increased volume of blood in her body, so this large volume of blood needs more iron to meet its needs.

Iron deficiency Anemia risk factors

Some group of people is more prone to developing iron deficiency anemia. These groups of people include:

  • Vegetarians: vegetarians are at more risk of developing iron deficiency anemia. Because they only eat vegetables. Only vegetables are not a good source of iron. To fulfill the requirement of iron they should include fortified foods in their meal.
  • Blood donors: people who give blood on regular basis, there is an increased chance of developing iron deficiency anemia. This is due to consecutive loss of blood.
  • Women: women and teenage girls are at more risk of developing iron deficiency because of their monthly menstrual cycle. In the menstrual cycle, there is frequent loss of blood.
  • Children and infants: premature babies and those babies born with low weight are at risk of iron deficiency. Those infants who are not getting the required iron in milk are at risk of iron deficiency.

Children going through growth spurts need more iron because in this stage they are at higher risk. It is crucial for children to eat iron rich foods and supplementation.

Symptoms of iron deficiency

Usually, iron deficiency takes a long time to develop. Nearly all people don’t know that they have an iron deficiency until the symptoms worsen.

But luckily iron deficiency recovers without any treatment. But if you have symptoms of iron deficiency consult a doctor immediately.  

Symptoms of iron deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • General weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Cold feet and hand
  • Brittle nails
  • Soreness of tongue
  • Loss of appetite especially in children and infants
  • Cravings for non-nutritive substances, like ice, starch, or dirt

Recommended Daily Intake RDI

The recommended daily intake of iron is:

  • Birth to 6 months    0.27 mg
  • 7-12 months             11 mg
  • 1-3 years                    7 mg  
  • 4-8 years                     10 mg
  • 9-13 years                  8 mg
  • 14-18 years                11 mg for males and 15 mg for female
  • 19-50 years                 8 mg for male and 18 mg for female
  • 51+ years                     8 mg for both
  • Pregnant women 14-50 years            27 mg
  • lactating women 14-18 years           10 mg
  • lactating women 18-50 years            9 mg 


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