Nutrition Facts: Iron

Printable fact sheet (PDF 333KB/2 pages)

Facts:
  • Iron is a mineral found in every cell of the body. It gives red blood cells the strength to carry oxygen to all of our organs.
  • Iron is also a component in many enzymes. An iron deficiency is called anemia and it causes many bodily functions to not work properly. Anemia can increase susceptibility to infection, slow cognitive development, and make it difficult to maintain body temperature.
  • Anemia during pregnancy can increase the chance of a premature birth small birth weight babies. These babies have more health problems or die more often in the first year of life than a full term baby or one born heavier.
  • In toddlers, anemia can delay normal motor function, thinking skills, and language. In teens, anemia can affect memory and other mental functions.
  • In adults, anemia causes fatigue and impairs the ability to do physical work.
  • Young children and pregnant women are at a higher risk of anemia because of the body is experiencing rapid growth and the need for iron is higher than normal.
  • Girls and women of childbearing age have higher iron needs because of menstruation.
  • Breast milk is not a good source of iron after the baby is 6 months old. The baby should begin eating iron-fortified cereal or other suitable foods with iron.
  • Consuming foods rich in iron at the same time as foods rich in vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.
  • Pica is the strong desire to eat non-food items such as ice, paper, clay or paint. It is a symptom of anemia.
  • There are two types of dietary iron. Heme iron is only found in meat. Non-Heme iron is found in fruits, vegetables, and beans.

Requirements across the Lifecycle:

  •  

    Life-stage Group

     

    Recommended Dietary Allowance

    • Adequate Intakes (AIs)
    • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
    • Tolerable Upper Intake (UL)

    RDAs and AIs may both be used as goals for individual intake.

     

    Infants

     

    0-6 months

    .27mg      40 mg/d

    7-12 months

    11 mg      40 mg/d

     

    Children

     

     

    1-3 years

      7 mg      40 mg/d

     

    4-8 years

    10 mg      40 mg/d

    Good Food Sources:

    Males

     

    • Liver and other organ meats

    9-13 years

     8 mg      40 mg/d

    • Dried Beans

    14-18 years

    11mg      45 mg/d

    • Dried Fruits

    19-30 years

     8 mg      45 mg/d

    • Eggs (especially yolks)

    31-50 years

     8 mg      45 mg/d

    • Lean Red Meat

    51-70 years

     8 mg      45 mg/d

    • Spinach

    > 70 years

     8 mg      45 mg/d

    • Poultry (especially dark meat)

    Females

     

    • Salmon

    9-13 years

     8 mg      45 mg/d

    • Tuna

    14-18 years

    15 mg     45 mg/d

    • Whole Grains

    19-30 years

    18 mg     45 mg/d

    • Fortified Cereals

    31-50 years

    18 mg     45 mg/d

    • Food prepared in cast iron skillets

    51-70 years

      8 mg     45 mg/d

     

    > 70 years

     8 mg      45 mg/d

     

    Pregnancy

     

     

    </= 18 years

    27 mg      45 mg/d

     

    19-30 years

    27 mg      45 mg/d

     

    31-50 years

    27 mg      45 mg/d

     

    Lactation

     

     

    </= 18 years

    10 mg     45 mg/d

     

    19-30 years

      9 mg     45 mg/d

     

    31-50 years

      9 mg     45 mg/d

     

  •  

    Research Findings on Iron

    Increasing Iron Uptake in Infants
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080321122124.htm

    Updated Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:19AM