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Importance of Iron in the Foods We Eat - Why Food High in Iron is Important

Updated on December 11, 2011

The human body needs several minerals in order to work properly and efficiently. There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals, which includes minerals such as calcium, sodium and potassium; and, trace minerals, which includes minerals like copper, zinc and iron.

Iron is one of the most important of all the minerals the body needs as it helps to create hemoglobin which carries oxygen to the entire body most importantly to the lungs. Too little iron can cause problems, but too much iron can also create trouble for the body. .

Depending on the age and sex of a person, there are daily recommended levels of iron required to stay healthy. It is not recommended that those levels be exceeded.

Not this kind of iron, although it's important too

picture by uyo14/
picture by uyo14/

How Much Iron Do We Need?

Pregnant women require the most daily iron, about 27 milligrams. Those who also need a lot are women between the ages of 19 and 50, 18 milligrams a day. Men and women over 50 only require about 8 milligrams of iron a day.

Too much iron can cause the onset of hemochromatosis, which is a genetic condition. This condition can cause organs to shut down and can cause liver cancer.

Less serious conditions that an overdose of iron can cause are indigestion and constipation.

Foods with Iron

There are several foods that provide iron, some may surprise you.

  • Most meat, especially red meat
  • Tuna and salmon
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Baked potato with the skin
  • Dried fruit
  • Green, leafy vegetables like spinach
  • Whole grains

There are many over-the-counter iron supplements but as with most things, natural sources of iron are preferred.

Picture by mai05
Picture by mai05

Dried Fruits

Dried fruits such as raisins, apricots and prunes are an excellent source of iron. There are many commercial products of dried fruits that can by bought in supermarkets. There are also places where dried fruits can be bought in bulk. Or, the more industrious person can dry their own fruits.

8 dried apricots contain 2.1 milligrams of iron.

Picture by bartozzi
Picture by bartozzi


Eggs are another good source of iron. There is no limit to what can be done with the simple egg. They can make a tasty and healthy omelet, they can be hard boiled and made into egg salad, they can be poached and used in Eggs Benedict, or they can be drunk in a drink such as egg nog.

Eggs got a bad reputation in the fight against high cholesterol but they have been proven not to be such a danger as previously thought. The average person can have up to 5 eggs a week.

1 boiled egg contains 1.3 milligrams of iron.

Picture by lockstockb
Picture by lockstockb


Salmon is a good source of iron, it can also lower bad cholesterol.

Salmon is one of the most flavorful fish. It can be cooked in a number of tasty and appealing ways. It can be baked, poached, steamed, and fried. Of course, if it's fried a low-fat oil such as olive oil should be used.

Salmon contains approximately 0.6 milligrams of iron.

Proper Diet

If a proper diet is followed, getting as much iron as the body needs should be very easy. It's also a lot more interesting and tasty than taking a supplement.


Submit a Comment

  • Pollyannalana profile image

    Pollyannalana 7 years ago from US

    Scary stuff to think you may get to much, wow. Great hub with so much info, thank you!

  • Research Analyst profile image

    Research Analyst 7 years ago

    I take iron tablets they really work

  • RGraf profile image

    Rebecca Graf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

    I'm glad I read this. I have no iron in my marrow and the tablets all make me sick. I'm trying to increase the iron in my diet. Thank you.

  • earnestshub profile image

    earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    Very informative and up to date information about high iron foods. I found it very useful. Thank you Uninvited Writer!

  • profile image

    girlpower 7 years ago

    thanks for the info on iron, and most important the list of foods that contain iron, i also heard cooking in cast iron adds iron to foods, is that right? thanks for a good hub.

  • BetsyIckes profile image

    BetsyIckes 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Bery good hub. I enjoyed it!

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    Thanks for the interesting information. We don't get enough iron in our diets.

  • blue dog profile image

    blue dog 7 years ago from texas hill country

    yea! for grilled salmon.

    thanks, uw.