Top Food Sources of Iron

Here are the top food sources of iron and the recommended daily amount of iron you should have in your diet.

Iron is a mineral widely available in food and you only need small amounts to stay health.  Iron from animal sources is called “heme iron” and is usually better absorbed than iron from plant sources, or “nonheme iron”.

How Much Iron Do You Need?

The adult Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for iron are:

Women (19-50 years): 18mg/day

Women (over 51 years): 8mg/day

Pregnant women: 27mg/day

Breastfeeding women (over 19 years): 9mg/day

Men (over 19 years):  mg/day

 

Which Foods Contain the Most Iron?

Sources of Heme iron

Beef liver (3 ounces, cooked)   5.8mg

Oysters (3 ounces) 4.4mg

Lean sirloin (3 ounces, cooked)   2.9mg

Turkey, dark meat, without skin (3.5 ounces, roasted) 2.3 g

Sardines, canned (5 small) 2.0mg

Lean ground beef (3 ounces, cooked) 1.8mg

Turkey, light meat, without skin (3.5 ounces roasted) 1.4mg

Tuna, canned in water, drained (3 ounces) 1.3mg

Chicken, skinless, dark meat (3 ounces roasted)  1.1mg

Chicken, skinless, white meat (3 ounces roasted) 1.0mg

Pork, lean (3 ounces roasted)  1.0mg

 

Sources of Nonheme Iron

Breakfast cereals enriched with iron (1 cup) 4.5-18 mg*

Pumpkin seed kernels (1 ounce) 4.2mg

Soybean nuts (1/2 cup) 3.4mg

Blackstrap molasses (1 tablespoon) 3.2mg

Spinach, boiled (1/2 cup) 3.2mg

Wheat bran (1/2 cup) 3.0mg

Red kidney beans, cooked (1/2 cup) 2.6mg

Prune juice (3/4 cup) 2.3mg

Lima beans, cooked (1/2 cup) 2.2mg

 

*The amount of iron in fortified cereals will vary according to type of cereal and brand.  Check with nutrition information label for the specific amount.

 

Recipe: Grilled Asian Steak and Spinach Salad

 

Anne Cain, R.D.

August 2013