Iron Deficiency and Anemia

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. About 20% of women, 50% of pregnant women, and 3% of men do not have enough iron in their body.

Our bodies need iron because:

  • Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood
  • Iron is a component of myoglobin, which makes oxygen available for muscle contraction
  • Iron helps the body utilize energy

Iron-rich foods

Include these iron-rich foods in your diet:

Beans and Legumes
Kidney, Black, Soy, Pinto, Navy, Garbanzo, Lentils
Dried Fruits
Raisin, Dates, Prunes, Apricots
Vegetables
Broccoli, Asparagus, Parsley, Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes, Peas
Greens
Spinach, Kale, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Turnip Greens
Fish and Shellfish
Tuna, Salmon, Oysters, Clams, Shrimp
Poultry
Chicken, Turkey
Lean Meats
Beef, Pork, Lamb
Organ Meat
Beef liver
Tofu and soy-based meat alternatives
Veggie burgers
Iron-fortified whole grains
Cereals, Bread, Tortillas, Rice, Pasta

    Putting it all together

    Some foods that are high in iron, such as whole grains, contain the less bioavailable, nonheme type of iron. In addition, some of these foods also contain factors that further inhibit the absorption of iron, such as spinach, which is a nonheme iron source that also contains oxalates. Combining these foods with iron-absorption enhancers, such as vitamin C-rich oranges or tomatoes, improves the bioavailability of iron.