Your Food and You: Iron

Did you know that iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world? Iron deficiency lowers productivity for workforces, with estimated losses of 2% GDP in the worst-effected countries. Therefore, iron is an important nutrient for giving you energy from 9-5!

Iron is used in the formation of red blood cells which deliver oxygen to our organs and tissues. It also plays a role in maintaining and replenishing our cells. Your body’s ability to absorb iron is affected by the type of iron you eat. The most absorbable form is called heme iron, which is found in animal-based foods such as red meat, poultry and fish. Non-heme iron is a plant-based form of iron that is found in foods such as beans, tofu and spinach, as well as iron-fortified foods. The majority of iron in our diet comes from non-heme food sources.

To boost iron absorption:

  • Include a vitamin C rich food with your meal such as citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapple, red or yellow bell peppers and broccoli
  • Use cast-iron cookware:
    • Iron from the pan is absorbed into the food which increases the iron content
  • Drink caffeinated beverages including tea, coffee or hot chocolate between meals:
    • Polyphenols found in these beverages inhibit the absorption of iron from foods

Not getting enough? Iron deficiency is common especially in women and vegetarian/vegan individuals. Deficiency can lead to anemia; with symptoms including fatigue, weakness and increased risk of infection and sickness.

Who should consider a supplement?

  • Vegetarians and vegans who cannot meet needs through diet
  • Pregnant women
  • People who may have digestive disorders

How much do you need?


Recommended Dietary Allowance (mg)


6-12 months



1-3 years

7 7
4-8 years 10



8 8
14-18 15



18 8
≥70 8






Upper limit 45


*If you are vegetarian your iron needs increase by 1.8x

Dietary Sources of Iron:

How to get it:

Option 1 Option 2
¾ cup cooked Instant oats at breakfast 8.6mg ¾ cup cooked Instant oats at breakfast 8.6
4oz of steak and 1 cup broccoli 4.32mg3mg ¾ cup edamame beans 6.5
¼ cup Kellogg’s all bran buds in yogurt at snack 3.5mg 3/4 cup firm tofu 8
2 cup Spinach salad at lunch 1.6 mg ½ cup black bean pasta 4.5 mg
1 ½ cup canned beans 6 mg
Daily Total 21.0mg 33.6mg















March 26, 2015
Revive Wellness