Top Foods Highest in Iron
Iron’s main purpose as a mineral circulates oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency, even a slight reduction, can cause anemia (fatigue/weakness), whilst more severe depletion can lead to organ failure. On the other hand, too much iron intake can lead to production of harmful free radicals, affecting heart and liver function and interfering with metabolism.
However overdose is rare as the body is able regulate iron uptake and the harmful effects usually come from taking too many supplements. The safest and healthiest way to increase iron is by eating foods that are naturally rich with it. Iron is better absorbed from heme (meat) sources, but non-heme (plant) iron causes less damage to the body as it is easier to regulate. 18 milligrams (mg) is the recommended percent daily value. Below is a list of high iron foods. For more high iron foods see the lists of high iron foods by nutrient density, iron rich foods (heme and non-heme), and the list of fruits and vegetables high in iron.
Many women suffer from iron deficiency, or anemia, because we don’t eat enough iron dense foods, plus we lose iron during menstruation. For these reasons it’s extremely important that we add iron rich foods to our diet. Iron deficiency anemia is also a problem with kids who are picky eaters. Check out the list below for foods high in iron, plus the foods you should and should not eat with them. Absorption of iron from food is influenced by multiple factors. One important factor being the form of the iron. Heme iron, found in animal sources, is highly available for absorption. Non-heme iron on the other hand, found in vegetable sources, is less bio-available.
How much iron do I need?
- The recommended iron intake for men and post-menopausal women is 8 mg. The recommended intake for pre-menopausal women is 18 mg and the recommendation increases to 27 mg for pregnant women.
- Children ages 7 to 12 months need 11 mg, 1 to 3 years 7mg, 4 to 8 years 10mg, 9-13 years 8mg, 14 to 18 years 11 mg (for boys), 15 mg (for girls).
The darker the meat, the higher it is in iron. A serving of 3 oz. of liver, kidney or heart provides about 3.5 mg of iron. Shellfish such as mussels, clams and oysters supply similar amounts of iron. Canned sardines and cooked beef or turkey are also good sources of iron, providing just over 2 mg of iron per 3-oz. serving. A large boiled egg supplies 1 mg of iron. Chicken, pork, veal and fish supply less than 1 mg of iron per 3-oz. serving. Hemo-iron (the type of iron found in red meat and other animal products) is readily absorbed by the body.
Here is the list of top foods highest in Iron:
1. Mollusks Clams, Mussels, Oysters, Shrimp
Other Mollusks High in Iron; Oysters , Cuttlefish , Whelk, Octopus , Mussels, Abalone and Scallops
2. Liver of Pork, Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Beef
White Beans, Lentils, Soybeans, Kidney beans, Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas) and Lima beans, Navy , Black Beans, Pinto, and Black-eyed Peas.
7. Whole Grains, Fortified Cereals, and Bran Iron, Quinoa, Oatmeal, Barley , Rice , Bulgur , Buckwheat, and Millet
Try to choose fortified cereals and those from whole grains but be careful to avoid the more advertised brands as they can contain high sugar content. Bran from whole grains can harm absorption of iron supplements.It is important to remember to avoid whole grains if taking iron supplements.
8. Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach, Swiss Chard , Cooked Turnip Greens, Raw Kale, and Raw Beet Greens
9. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
Tofu without added calcium is better for iron absorption as calcium can inhibit the uptake of iron