Getting Enough Iron

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Topic Overview

How much dietary iron is recommended each day?

Recommended daily amounts of iron from foodfootnote 1


8 mg


Adult (age 50 and older)

8 mg

Adult (ages 19 to 50)

18 mg


27 mg


9 mg to 10 mg

Adolescents (ages 9 to 18)


8 mg to 15 mg


8 mg to 11 mg

Children (birth to age 8)

Ages 4 to 8

10 mg

Ages 1 to 3

7 mg

Infants (7 months to 1 year)

11 mg

Infants (birth to 6 months)

0.27 mg

What foods are high in iron?

You can get iron from many foods. Beef and turkey are good sources of iron from meat or animal protein. Beans are good sources of iron from plants. Iron from meat is absorbed by your body more fully than iron from plants. Some foods can decrease the amount of iron that your body will absorb. But meat and vitamin C can help your body absorb more iron from plants. Ask your doctor or registered dietitian about how to be sure you are getting enough iron.

Iron-fortified foods include cereals.

Meat and poultryfootnote 2
  Serving size Iron (mg)

Beef (ground)

3 oz

2 mg


3 oz

1 mg


3 oz

1 mg2 mg

Fruits and vegetablesfootnote 2
  Serving size Iron (mg)

Beans (cooked or canned)

1 cup

1 mg5 mg

Potato (baked)

1 medium

2 mg


1 cup

3 mg

Spinach (cooked)

1 cup

6 mg

Cereals and grainsfootnote 2
  Serving size Iron (mg)

Cereals (iron-fortified, ready to eat)

1 cup

4 mg18 mg

Oatmeal (instant)

1 cup

4 mg

Rice (white, enriched)

1 cup

3 mg



  1. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2011). Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes, elements. Available online:
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (2012). Nutrient data laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014