6 Ways to Pump Iron into Your Diet

  • Spinach
    Look Beyond Spinach for Sources of Iron
    Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia. If you have anemia, it means that your red blood cells are not carrying enough oxygen. You could be at risk for iron deficiency if you have heavy menstrual periods, are pregnant, have a digestive problem, have a medical condition that causes bleeding, or if you don’t eat meat or fish. One way to reduce your risk is to pump up your diet with iron.

  • Butcher serving customer at meat counter of grocery store
    Eat More Meat
    Iron is in lots of foods, especially meat. Meat has high levels of iron, and your digestive system absorbs iron better from meat than from vegetables. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iron for an adult male is 8 milligrams per day (mg/day). Adult women need 18 mg/day. After menopause, women need about the same as men. Beef liver is the best meat for iron. It will give you 5 mg of iron per 3-ounce serving.

  • Oysters
    Eat More Seafood
    Three ounces of oysters actually have more iron than 3 ounces of beef liver. Three ounces of oysters will give you 8 mg of iron. Some other seafood is also high in iron. That includes sardines and anchovies. If you are a grown man, 3 ounces of canned sardines will give you about one-fourth of your daily iron allowance. Tuna is another seafood high in iron.

  • White kidney beans in a brown pot macro and bread
    Beans for Dinner
    Beans and lentils are great sources of protein and fiber and iron. A cup of white beans has as much iron as 3 ounces of oysters. In fact, 1 cup of white beans is all a grown man needs to get his daily allowance of iron. If you are a woman, eat 2 cups. Other beans with iron include green peas, chickpeas, lima beans, pinto beans and black-eyed peas.

  • Tofu
    More Iron for Vegetarians
    If you don’t eat meat or seafood, you can try beans. If you like your vegetables, leafy greens are a good source of iron. But you need to eat a lot. Spinach is your best source, but you only get 3 mg of iron in a half-cup. Broccoli, kale and collard greens also have some iron. You can add more iron with nuts and fruit. Tofu is a good source of protein and iron. In fact, 1/2 cup of tofu has as much iron as spinach.

  • Glass of spilt milk on table
    Easy on the Dairy
    Dairy products have lots of good proteins but not lots of iron. In fact, a common cause of iron deficiency in children is drinking too much milk. Studies show that children who drink more than 16 to 24 ounces of cow’s milk per day are at risk for iron deficiency. Cow’s milk can block iron absorption from other foods.

  • Closeup on young woman eating pill
    Add a Diet Supplement
    If you want to be sure to get your RDA, you can get iron from a multivitamin or diet supplement. The maximum recommended iron in a vitamin or supplement for adult men and women is 45 mg. Taking more can give you nausea and stomach pain. One final tip: add in some extra vitamin C. Vitamin C increases your ability to absorb iron from your diet.

6 Ways to Pump Iron into Your Diet

About The Author

  1. Anemia. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/anemia.html
  2. Iron-Deficiency Anemia. American Society of Hematology.http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Anemia/Iron-Deficiency.aspx
  3. Iron Dietary Supplement fact Sheet. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/
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Last Review Date: 2019 Sep 11
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