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Iron Facts

What is Iron?

Iron is a mineral found in every living cell. It is part of red blood cells and muscle proteins. Iron helps the blood cells and muscles to carry and hold oxygen and then release it when needed. Iron is essential to make enzymes and hormones.

Iron requirements

The RDAs for iron for healthy adults are 8mg/day for males 19-51 years old and 18 mg/day for females 19-50 years old. After age 51, the RDA is the same for both men and women, 8 mg/day. Menstruating females need more iron to compensate for losses. The RDA for iron increases during pregnancy to 27 mg/day.

What happens when Iron intake is too high?

The intestine regulates iron absorption to meet the body's needs. Iron overload is rare in the absence of hereditary iron storage disease. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for healthy adults is 45 mg/day. There may be times when a physician prescribes an intake higher than the upper limit to treat iron deficiency anemia.

What happens when Iron intake is too low?

The intestine regulates iron absorption to meet the body's needs. Only 10 – 15% of dietary iron is usually absorbed; however, absorption is greatly increased if the body needs more. Iron deficiency develops gradually when iron intake does not meet need. Daily needs are increased with chronic blood loss, gastrointestinal disorders, and pregnancy.

Which foods are high in Iron?

The best sources of iron are liver and organ meats, clams, oysters, beef, poultry, and fish. Some fortified ready-to-eat cereals are high, as are dried beans, dark-green vegetables, molasses, baked potato with skin, and enriched grains. The iron from supplements is less well absorbed than that from food.

List of foods high in Iron






Mixed Dish


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