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Feb 28 2014

Food Sources of Iron

Information about Iron


  • Iron is a mineral that is important for good health.
  • Iron carries oxygen to all parts of your body. 
  • Low iron levels can leave you tired, pale-looking and irritable.
 

How much Iron Should I Aim For?

 
Age in Years Aim for an intake of *milligrams  (mg)/day Stay below* mg/day
Men 19 and older 8 45
Women 19-50 18 45
Women 51 and older 8 45
Pregnant women 19-50 27 45
Breastfeeding women 19-50 9 45
*This includes sources of iron from food and supplements.

Vegetarians need almost twice the daily recommended amount of iron compared with non-vegetarians.  Iron from plant-based foods is not absorbed as well by our bodies as animal food sources.
 

Iron Content of Some Common Foods


You can find iron in both animal and plant foods. 
  • Animal sources (called “heme iron”) include meat, fish and poultry.  Our bodies easily absorb this type of iron.
  • Plant sources (called “non-heme iron”) include dried beans, peas and lentils and some fruits and vegetables. 
  • In Canada, grain products like flour, pasta and breakfast cereals are fortified with iron.  Our bodies better absorb this type of iron when taken along with meat/chicken/fish or a source of vitamin C.  Vitamin C rich foods include citrus fruits and juices, cantaloupe, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers.
 
The following table will show you which foods are sources of iron.
 
Food Serving size Iron (mg)
Vegetables and Fruits
Spinach, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 2.0-3.4
Tomato puree 125 mL (½ cup) 2.4
Edamame/baby soybeans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.9-2.4
Lima beans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 2.2
Asparagus, raw 6 spears 2.1
Hearts of palm, canned 125 mL (½ cup) 2.0
Potato, with skin, cooked 1 medium 1.3-1.9
Snow peas, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.7
Turnip or beet greens, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.5-1.7
Prune juice 125 mL (½ cup) 1.6
Apricots, dried 60 mL (¼ cup) 1.6
Beets, canned 125 mL (½ cup) 1.6
Kale, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Green peas, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Tomato sauce 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Grains Products
Oatmeal, instant , cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 4.5-6.6
Cream of wheat, all types, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 5.7-5.8
Cereal, dry, all types 30 g (check product label for serving size) 4.0-4.3
Granola bar, oat, fruits and nut 1 bar (32 g) 1.2-2.7
Cracker, soda 6 crackers 1.5-2.3
Oat bran cereal, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.0
Pasta, egg noodles, enriched, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.3
Milk and Alternatives  
Yogurt, soy 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.0
Meats and Alternatives
Meat and Poultry
Duck, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 1.8- 7.4
Moose or venison, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 2.5-3.8
Beef, various cuts, cooked  75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.4-3.3
Ground meat (beef, lamb), cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 1.3-2.2
Lamb, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 1.3-2.1
Chicken, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.4-2.0
Pork, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.5-1.5
Ground meat (turkey, chicken, pork), cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.8-1.2
Turkey, various cuts, cooked 75 g (2 ½  oz) 0.3-0.8
Organ Meats    
Liver, pork ,cooked* 75 g (2 ½ oz) 13.4
Liver (chicken, turkey, lamb), cooked* 75 g (2 ½ oz) 6.2-9.7
Kidney, lamb, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 9.3
Liver, beef ,cooked* 75 g (2 ½ oz) 4.9
Kidney (beef, veal, pork), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.3-4.4
Fish and Seafood    
Octopus, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 7.2
Oysters, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 3.3-9.0
Seafood (shrimp, scallops, crab), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.2-2.3
Sardines, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.7-2.2
Clams, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2.0
Fish (mackerel, trout, bass), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.4-1.7
Tuna, light, canned in water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 1.2
 
Meat Alternatives
   
Tofu, cooked 150 g (¾ cup) 2.4-8.0
Soybeans, mature, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 6.5
Lentils, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 4.1-4.9
Beans (white, kidney, navy, pinto, black, roman/cranberry, adzuki), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.6-4.9
Pumpkin or squash seeds, roasted 60 mL (¼ cup) 1.4-4.7
Peas (chickpeas/garbanzo, black-eyed, split), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 1.9-3.5
Tempeh/fermented soy product, cooked 150 g (3/4 cup) 3.2
Meatless (sausage, chicken, meatballs, fish sticks), cooked 75 g (2.5 oz) 1.5-2.8
Baked beans, canned 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.2
Nuts (cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, pistachio nuts), without shell 60 ml (¼ cup) 1.3-2.2
Eggs, cooked 2 large 1.2-1.8
Sesame seeds, roasted 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 1.4
Meatless, luncheon slices 75 g (2.5 oz) 1.4
Hummus 60 mL (¼ cup) 1.4
Almond butter 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 1.2
Miscellaneous    
Blackstrap molasses 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 3.6
Yeast extract spread (marmite or vegemite) 30 mL (2 Tbsp) 1.4
*Pregnant women should limit intake of liver to one serving every two weeks. 

 

Source: "Canadian Nutrient File 2010"
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/index-eng.php
[Accessed March 20, 2012].

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