Iron and Iron Rich Foods

Iron and Iron Rich FoodsWHY DO WE NEED IRON?
The main role of iron within the body is to carry oxygen around the body to supply it to tissues

Lean beef is the best source of iron, which is also found in chicken and fish. It can also be found in green vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, bread, pulses, dried fruit and nuts. Iron absorption from food is enhanced by vitamin C.


Iron deficiency is one of the most commonly occurring nutrient deficiencies in the UK. It can affect many functions of the body, including, thermogenesis (heat production), infection and immunity, and mental and motor development in children. 

The groups most at risk from becoming deficient in iron are those that are experiencing rapid growth, such as:  

  • Infants
  • Adolescents
  • Pregnant and menstruating women
  • There are many aspects to a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, but it is essential for everyone to enjoy a balanced diet.

For information on red meat and iron please visit here

Top tips for boosting your iron intake

  • Use extra-lean mince to make lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese, meatballs, cottage pie and homemade burgers. A dinner of spaghetti Bolognese with whole-wheat pasta will give you an impressive 6.6mg iron – that’s 47 percent of the recommended daily intake – while a burger in a wholemeal bap with salad provides 5.4mg of iron, and a plate of cottage pie, contains 3.7mg iron.
  • Go for red meat – the darker the flesh, the higher the iron content. This means beef contains more iron than pork, which contains more than salmon or chicken.
  • Choose leg meat rather than breast meat when you’re having roast chicken or turkey – it contains twice as much iron.
  • Enjoy an old-fashioned dinner of liver and bacon with mash, veg and gravy. Liver is one of the richest sources of iron. A 100g serving of fried lamb’s liver contains almost 11g iron – that’s more than three quarters the amount needed by teenage girls and women each day ( the exception to this is during pregnancy when liver should be avoided due to the high vitamin A content which has been linked to birth defects).
  • Start your day with a bowl of bran flakes and semi-skimmed milk. Most are fortified with iron so that a standard bowl provides 6mg of iron. This iron isn’t as well absorbed as the iron in meat so add a vitamin C-rich fruit such as strawberries, kiwi or a glass of fruit juice to help the body absorb this iron.
  • Wholegrain bread contains more iron than white bread and nuts can boost intakes so swap a breakfast of 2 slices of white toast and jam for wholemeal toast and peanut butter – you’ll get 2.5mg of iron. 
  • Fill sandwiches or top toast with canned mackerel or sardines for lunch. Oil-rich fish can help to boost iron intakes.
  • Choose lentil soup with a wholemeal roll for lunch this will provide 5.4mg iron thanks mainly to the lentils.
  • Snack on a handful of peanuts and raisins and get 1.1mg of iron in just a few mouthful both contain iron
  • Serve hummus with carrot sticks – a 50g serving of the dip with 1 chopped raw carrot will give you 1.2mg iron. Hummus is made from chick peas, which can help to boost iron intakes.