Iron is found in small amounts of many foods.
The foods below provide 4-5mg iron, but more of the iron in the meat and mussels will be absorbed. The absorption of iron from plant sources is affected by other components in the food and what it is eaten with.
- 7 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- grilled steak (150g when raw)
- 1/3 cup steamed mussels
- 100g tofu
- 7 slices heavy multigrain bread
- 1 1/4 cups cooked red lentils
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron is:
- Women aged 50+ and all men 8mg
- Women aged 19-50 years (although needs vary widely) 18mg
Haem iron from meat and fish is more readily absorbed than non-haem iron from plant sources.
- It's estimated up to 80 per cent more iron can be needed in a vegetarian diet.
Boost your absorption
- Kiwifruit or citrus fruits added to cereals, and capsicum or broccoli added to salads enhances iron absorption
thanks to the vitamin C.
- Phytates in wholegrains and legumes, and oxalates in spinach and silver beet reduce iron absorption – another reason to include foods with vitamin C.
- Avoid drinking tea and coffee with meals as their polyphenols can also reduce iron absorption.
Did you know? Eleven cups of raw spinach (or 1 3/4 cups boiled) have 4.5mg iron. But spinach also contains oxalates – which limit absorption.