15 Foods with Iron: A Guide to Prevent Iron Deficiency

Iron is an essential mineral that our body needs to produce red blood cells and maintain overall health.

 However, iron deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies worldwide, with over 30% of the global population affected.

In this article, we will discuss how to prevent iron deficiency and the importance of including foods with iron in your diet.

Foods with Iron
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What is Iron Deficiency and Anemia?

Iron deficiency occurs when the body’s iron stores are depleted, leading to insufficient production of red blood cells which can cause fatigue and weakness.

If left untreated, this condition can progress to iron-deficiency anemia. Anemia is a condition wherein the body lacks enough healthy red blood cells to carry sufficient oxygen to body tissues.

What are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency?

Some of the common symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, pale skin, hair loss, and cold hands and feet.

What is Anemia and How is it Related to Iron Deficiency?

Anemia is a medical condition caused by insufficient red blood cells in the body. Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of anemia.

When the body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin, the protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen, the person develops anemia.

What are the Symptoms of Anemia?

The symptoms of anemia are similar to those of iron deficiency and may include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and dizziness.

In severe cases, anemia can lead to heart problems, including irregular heartbeat and heart failure.

List of Foods with Iron Iron Content (mg per 100g)

  • Sesame seeds
    Sesame seeds 14.6g
  • Dark Chocolate
    Dark Chocolate 11.9g
  • Pumpkin Seeds
    Pumpkin Seeds 8.8g
  • Cashews
    Cashews 6.7g
  • Beef Liver
    Beef Liver 6.5g
  • Oysters
    Oysters 5.7g
  • Tofu
    Tofu 5.4g
  • Black Beans
    Black Beans 3.6g
  • Lentils
    Lentils 3.3g
  • Chickpeas
    Chickpeas 2.9g
  • Sardines
    Sardines 2.9g
  • Quinoa
    Quinoa 2.8g
  • Spinach
    Spinach 2.7g
  • Turkey
    Turkey 1.5g
  • Broccoli
    Broccoli 0.7g

What are Iron-Rich Foods?

There are two forms of dietary iron, heme, and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal products such as red meat, fish, and poultry while non-heme iron is found in plant-based foods such as spinach, beans, and lentils.

What is Heme Iron and What Foods Contain It?

Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body compared to non-heme iron. The best sources of heme iron include beef, chicken, pork liver, clams, and oysters.

What is Non-Heme Iron and What Foods Contain It?

Non-heme iron is the most common form of iron in plant-based foods. The best sources of non-heme iron include spinach, lentils, fortified cereals, tofu, and chickpeas.

What Foods Can Help Improve Iron Absorption?

Pairing iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can help enhance iron absorption. Examples of food high in vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.

How Much Iron Do You Need and How to Get Enough Iron?

The amount of iron needed varies according to age, gender, and overall health. Females aged 19-50 need around 18mg of iron per day, while men of the same age group need 8mg per day. 

Pregnant women require an increased amount of iron, with a recommended intake of 27mg per day.

What are the Best Sources of Heme Iron?

Animal products such as beef, chicken, liver, pork, and oysters are some of the best sources of heme iron.

What Foods are Rich in Non-Heme Iron?

Plant-based foods such as spinach, lentils, beans, and fortified cereals are rich in non-heme iron.

Iron Supplements vs. Iron from Food

Iron supplements may be necessary for people with iron deficiency anemia who are not getting enough iron from their diets. However, getting iron from food is always the preferred option as it is easier for the body to absorb compared to supplements.

When to Take Iron Supplements?

Iron supplements should be taken as directed by a healthcare provider. Taking too much iron can cause adverse effects like constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

Can You Get Enough Iron from Food Alone?

Iron supplements should be taken as directed by a healthcare provider. Taking too much iron can cause adverse effects like constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

What Foods Can Help Your Body Absorb Iron?

Pairing iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can help increase iron absorption. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables are some examples of vitamin C rich foods.


Incorporating foods with iron into your diet can help prevent iron deficiency and anemia. 

Consuming a variety of foods that are high in iron, such as red meat, poultry, spinach, and lentils, can help ensure you get enough iron in your diet. 

Always speak to a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dose of iron for your needs and to ensure that you are not consuming an excess of iron. Remember, getting enough iron is crucial to maintaining good health and wellbeing.

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