Let’s Talk About Iron!
Here are the Coles notes on everything you need to know about iron! What it does, how much we need, and how to get it!
What Does Iron Do?
- Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin and myoglobin, proteins that transport oxygen throughout the body
- Supports muscle metabolism and healthy connective tissue
- Necessary for physical growth, neurologic development, cellular functioning and hormone synthesis
How Much Iron Do We Need?
Adult males need 8mg of iron/day and adult females (premenopausal) need 18mg/day
However – plant sources of iron (nonheme iron) are typically less bioavailable than animal sources of iron (heme iron). Therefore, the RDA for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher than for people who eat meat. Not only is heme iron from meat more bioavailable than nonheme iron from plant-based foods, but heme iron increases the absorption of nonheme iron.
Note: vitamin C enhances the absorption of nonheme iron, so if you are vegetarian/vegan make sure you eat lots of vitamin C containing foods! Calcium may reduce the biovailability of both heme and nonheme iron, so try not to combine high calcium foods (dairy, leafy greens, beans, legumes, almonds, tofu) with iron!
What Foods Are High In Iron?
- Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs
Nonheme (plant-based) iron:
- Beans & legumes
- Leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes
- Fortified grain products (cereals, breads etc)
For more information: