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Foods high in iron

Maryam Malekian • MS, Registered Dietitian • Nov 04, 2012

There are two different forms of dietary iron: the most easily absorbed iron (known as heme iron) exists in animal tissues such as beef and pork. The other form of iron (known as non-heme) iron only exists in plant foods such as beans and some vegetables. 

Children's Daily Iron Needs

Children daily iron needs for ages one to three is 7 mg of iron per day. Depending on the food, your child could get his daily requirement of iron in one serving (for example, three ounces of lean beef has 2 to 3 mg of iron, one slice of whole-wheat bread has 1 mg, and 6oz x ½ inch slice of watermelon has 3mg). It’s important to mention that both sources of iron are worth eating.  In fact, heme iron helps improve the absorption of non-heme iron, thus eating food sources of both forms of iron in one meal (like beef and whole-wheat bread) is ideal. 

Very Good Sources of Iron

  • Beef, pork
  • Beef or chicken liver
  • Cooked beans (pinto, garbanzo, kidney, lima, black, lentils)
  • Beans cooked with low fat meat
  • Cooked oysters
  • Breakfast cereal with added iron

Good Sources of Iron

  • Chicken and turkey
  • Fish, canned tuna, shrimp, clamstofu meal sources of iron
  • Tofu
  • Corn or flour tortillas- enriched
  • Rice or pasta- enriched
  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, collards, parsley, cilantro)
  • Peas, snow peas
  • Prune juice, dried fruit
  • Hummus
  • Peanut butter

Read more about iron and how to increase your child's consumption at mealtime









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Written by Maryam MalekianWritten on Nov 04, 2012Last updated on Apr 03, 2016




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