ron is essential for red blood cell development.  Menstruating-age women, female athletes, endurance athletes, chronic dieters, and individuals consuming poorly balanced diets are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency.  Some medical conditions can also lead to iron deficiency. Symptoms of this condition include paleness, fatigue, weakness, headaches, and heart palpitations.

The preferred method for preventing and correcting iron deficiency is increasing iron rich foods in the diet. The iron in plant foods is generally not as well absorbed as the iron in animal products.  To improve absorption from plant foods, include a vitamin C rich food such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi, melons, dark green vegetables or red and green bell peppers during iron rich meals.  For example, put a 1/2 cup of sliced tomatoes in a bean burrito.  Use of cast iron cookware can add substantial amounts of iron to one’s diet. On the other hand, coffee or tea at a meal can bind iron and make much of it unavailable to the body.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron is 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men.

Iron Sources

Meat, Fish, or Poultry

(3 oz. cooked unless otherwise stated)

Clams, 9 small 11.0
Oysters, 6 5.4
Beef loin 3.0
Shrimp, boiled 2.7
Hamburger 2.3
Turkey, dark meat 2.0
Ham 1.5
Tuna, canned in water 1.2
Chicken, dark meat 1.2
Chicken, white meat 1.0


(1 cup cooked unless otherwise stated)

Tofu, Firm, 1/2 Cup 1-13
Soybeans 8.8
White Beans 7.8
Tofu, Regular, 1/2 Cup 1-7
Lentils 6.6
Kidney Beans 5.0
Refried Beans 4.5
Soy yogurt, plain 2.7
Peas, split 2.5
Soymilk, 8 oz. 1.5

Nuts and Seeds

(High in Fat)

Pumpkin seeds, 2 oz. 8.4
Cashews, 2 oz. 3.4
Sesame butter r(Tahini) 2 T 2.8
Sunflower seeds, 2 oz. 2.2
Almonds, 2 oz. 2.0
Sesame seeds, 2 oz. 1.4
Peanuts, 2 oz. 1.6
Peanut Butter, 2 T 0.6


(1 cup cooked unless otherwise stated)

Spinach, fresh 6.0
Swiss chard 4.0
Spinach, frozen 3.0
Potato, baked with skin 2.8
Tomato juice cocktail, 1 cup 2.2
Collard greens 2.2
Broccoli 1.8
Bok Choy 1.8
Artichokes, 1 medium 1.6
Green peas, frozen 1.5
Kale 1.2
Grains and Cereal Mg
Cream of Wheat, 1 cup cooked 15.6
Total Corn Flakes, ready to eat 13.5
Oatmeal, instant, fortified 11
Whole wheat bread, 2 slices 17
Wheat germ, 2 T 1.3
Fruits Mg
Peach halves, 5 dried 2.6
Prune juice, 3/4 cup 2.3
Figs, 5 dried 2.1
Apricot halves, 10 1.6
Prunes, 5 large dried 1.2
Raisins, 1/3 cup 1.0
Others Mg
Instant Breakfast, 1 package 4.5
Molasses, black strap, 1 T 3.2
Brewers yeast, 1 T 1.1
Egg, 1 large 1.0