Inadequate iron supplies from food sources results in iron deficiency anemia, the most common nutritional deficiency in the world. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, reduced cognitive function, increased risk of infection and delayed development in infants. Iron-deficiency anemia can also be the result of impaired iron absorption or iron loss due to blood loss from menstruation, injury and gastrointestinal bleeding. Iron deficiency is more prevalent among infants, toddlers, teenage girls, women of childbearing age and vegetarians. Iron intake requirements are 1.8 times higher for vegetarians because nonheme iron is not absorbed as well as heme iron.
Too Much Iron?
It’s not likely that you’ll get too much iron from dietary sources. However, high doses from supplements could cause harmful effects, ranging from gastrointestinal effects, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, to cardiovascular, nervous system, kidney and liver effects. Children should never be given iron supplements unless under the guidance of a physician or qualified health professional. Iron toxicity which arises from abnormally high doses of supplements in children can rapidly result in serious long-term effects or can even be life threatening.
People with the following conditions may be at risk of harmful effects due to high iron intakes and therefore should not consume excess amounts of iron: hereditary hemochromatosis (a condition that causes the body to absorb and store too much iron), chronic alcoholism, liver disease, iron-loading abnormalities and certain genetic disorders. Additionally, it’s recommended that adult men and postmenopausal women avoid iron supplements and highly fortified foods because of their greater risk for iron overload, a condition that leads to iron accumulation in the body.
There are two basic sources of iron: heme and non-heme. “Heme” sources are those of animal origin. “Non-heme” refers to vegetable sources of iron. Some experts say that the iron in vegetables and fruits is not as easily absorbed by the body.
Here are two lists of the top sources of iron – a list of foods high in iron separated into the top ten heme sources and ten non-heme sources.
1. Oysters – One-half cup of oysters has 8 milligrams of iron.
2. Steamed Clams – Four ounces of steamed clams have 3 milligrams of iron.
3. Venison – A 4-ounce serving of venison has 8 milligrams of iron.
4. Liver – Both chicken and beef liver are a great source of iron. Four ounces of chicken liver has 10 milligrams of iron, and the same amount of beef liver has 6.5 milligrams. Calf’s liver has 16 milligrams per 4-ounce serving.
5. Beef – In a 4-ounce serving, beef contains 3.5 milligrams of iron.
6. Lamb – Cooked lamb has almost 2 milligrams of iron per 4-ounce serving.
7. Eggs – One whole chicken egg has 1 milligram of iron.
8. Chicken – Cooked chicken has almost 2 milligrams of iron per 4-ounce serving.
9. Turkey – 4 ounces of dark turkey meat has 2.5 milligrams of iron, and white turkey meat has 1.6 milligrams.
10. Pork – 4 ounces of pork contain 1 milligram of iron.
1. Lentils – Four ounces of cooked lentils have 3 milligrams of iron.
2. Barley – This pearly grain may not seem like a likely iron source. But 4 ounces have 2 milligrams of iron.
3. Spirulina – This blue-green algae is high in iron – just 1 teaspoon has 5 milligrams.
4. Pumpkin Seeds – Save those seeds from your jack-o-lantern; they contain almost 4 milligrams of iron per ounce.
5. Beans – Half a cup of cooked beans has anywhere from 3-4.5 ounces of iron, depending on the type of bean. Soy beans are highest in iron, followed by white and pinto beans.
6. Quinoa – A cup of this tiny, cooked grain contains 6.3 milligrams of iron.
7. Blackstrap Molasses – A tablespoon of this sweet syrup contains around 3.5 milligrams of iron.
8. Brussels Sprouts – One cup of these little cabbage-like vegetables has almost 2 milligrams of iron.
9. Potato – A large potato has a little over 3 milligrams of iron. This includes the skin.
10. Raisins – A heaped half a cup of raisins has 2 milligrams of iron.
We hope that our List of Foods High in Iron helps you with your daily iron needs!