Foods with iron


Iron is a trace element which is contained in very small amounts in many different foods. A daily minimum intake of iron is essential for the body, as it is required for various processes at the cellular level. In addition to its function as a component of some enzyme complexes, it is contained in hemoglobin, the pigment in red blood cells. In these so-called erythrocytes, hemoglobin has the job of absorbing oxygen when the blood passes through the lungs. The iron contained in it allows the oxygen to be absorbed in the red blood cells and transported into the body. Myoglobin, which is contained in muscles and, among other things, is responsible for their oxygen supply, has a similar function. These complexes make up over 70% of the iron content in the human body. Another 20% is contained in the iron stores, which are formed by what is known as ferritin. The rest of the iron is almost completely built into enzymes; only a small part is bound to transferrin as transportable iron.

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Of the Daily iron requirement subject gender differenceswhich are linked, among other things, to the menstruation of women and the associated loss of blood and iron. While Men around 10 mg of iron a day should eat Women 15 mg iron a day. Both lose about 1 mg through normal processes. In most cases, the iron balance can through nutrition in balance being held. From Iron deficiency are however more likely to affect women, a lot of during pregnancy. Expectant mothers should up to 30 mg iron per day because the additional requirement is enormous due to the change in the body and the growing child. When eating, care must be taken that always consumed more ferrous products than the daily requirement says, because only 10 to 15% of the iron in the intestine is also absorbed into the blood.

Foods that are relatively high in iron can be found and can be found in almost all food niches individually adapted to the personal setting to be selected. For breakfast and lunch as well as for dinner, whether as a vegetarian or a passionate meat eater - anyone with an existing iron deficiency or at risk of developing it can pay attention to a diet rich in iron. As a rule, you should always try to compensate for the deficiency in a natural waybefore resorting to dietary supplements or medicinal preparations.

Please also read our article on this Consequences of iron deficiency.


The front runner in terms of iron content is the liver. Pork liver in particular is extremely high in iron. But other foods from the green food sector can also replenish iron stores. Here are a few examples:

fish and meat


Iron content in mg / 100 g

Pork liver


Beef liver




Liver sausage


Turkey meat




fruit and vegetables


Iron content in mg / 100 g



White beans








Black currants




Iron content in mg / 100 g

Wheat bran




Rye bread


The tables do not claim to be complete and only contain a few common foods.

Ferrous foods for vegetarians

Most meat products contain a lot of iron. In particular, offal, such as the liver of animals, are enormous donors of iron. Meat is consumed by the majority of people and can therefore keep their iron balance in balance. The claim that vegetarians are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency by not eating meat sounds very plausible. However, women eat a vegetarian diet more often than men - two thirds of vegetarians are women - who are known to suffer more often from gender-related iron deficiency. Overall, there could be a connection between a meatless diet and iron deficiency, but any experienced vegetarian can help himself with countless plant-based iron donors. Dairy products do not play a major role in the iron balance and eating eggs in large quantities is also unhealthy. Eggs contain 5.5 mg of iron per 100 g - that is not much when counted down to the weight of an egg.

Vegetarians can especially use cereals as a source of iron. Wheat bran, the constituents that are left over when the flour is sieved in grain processing, contains a peak value of 16 mg iron in 100 g - this almost rivals pork liver. Millet and oatmeal are also on the list of foods rich in iron. The latter can be consumed at breakfast, for example. As an alternative, there are cornflakes to which various minerals, including iron, have been added. Rye bread is also an everyday grain product. For example, for lunch vegetarians can prepare whole-grain rice, which they can serve with numerous iron-rich vegetables.

Among the various types of vegetables, legumes are the main sources of iron. Lentils, white beans and peas contain between 5 and 7 mg iron per 100 g. Chanterelles can also be consumed for an iron-rich diet. Spinach has a reputation for being high in iron. On the one hand this is only partly true - spinach contains 3.5 mg / 100 g - and on the other hand the plants contain substances that can inhibit iron absorption in the intestine. In total, no more iron is absorbed and there is no profit for the consumer. Fennel, lamb's lettuce, carrots and peppers do not contain as much iron as the foods already mentioned, but as a salad they can be an iron-rich snack.

There are not only a few iron donors in fruit, the amount of iron is also not particularly abundant. Dried apricots weigh the most at 3.8 mg / 100 g. Black currants, strawberries and raspberries contain between 0.9 and 1.3 mg iron / 100 g. Many spices, herbs and seeds have a lot of iron extrapolated to 100 g, but when consumed, they have little effect on the iron balance. Examples include parsley, spearmint, thyme, pumpkin seeds, ginger, and sesame seeds.

Also read: Iron deficiency in vegetarians such as Diet for iron deficiency

Foods with iron and zinc

Like iron, zinc is an essential trace element. As a component of many different enzymes, it takes part in metabolism, cell growth and the formation of genetic material. In addition, zinc promotes the human immune system. Similar to iron, the recommended daily amount is 15 mg for men and 12 mg for women. Many iron-containing foods are also high in zinc. Depending on the type of oyster, 100 g of the seafood contain between 7 and over 100 mg of zinc. Pork liver (6.3 mg / 100 g), soy flour (5.7 mg / 100 g), oatmeal (4.5 mg / 100 g) and beef (3.5 mg / 100 g) are also very high in zinc. Cheeses such as Emmentaler, Tilsiter or Gouda as well as legumes and nuts also contain more zinc. In the case of peanuts, the absorption of zinc in the intestine is inhibited by another ingredient.

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Iron Requirements During Pregnancy

Due to the growing child and its care, as well as the loss of blood during childbirth, pregnant women consume much more iron than normal. Differences of 800 to 1200 mg are not uncommon and must be balanced out over the entire pregnancy. A sufficient supply of iron ensures the growth of the placenta and the baby. The female body changes many functions when pregnancy occurs and tries to mobilize all stored camps.

This is also the case with the iron balance: iron absorption in the intestine is increased, iron becomes more transportable with the help of certain enzymes (transferrin) and the natural iron stores (ferritin) are broken down. Even so, pregnant women often suffer from iron deficiency, which can lead to various problems. If you don't want to swallow any food supplements or iron supplements at this point, you can use foods that contain iron. These can alleviate minor deficiencies, but must not be viewed as a single treatment in the case of severe deficiencies or iron deficiency anemia. Grains and vegetables rich in iron should be mentioned in the first place alongside fruits that contain a lot of vitamin C. Vitamin C also promotes the absorption of iron in the intestine and should therefore be consumed consciously. Next to wheat grain, pulses are the most abundant sources of iron and can be consumed regularly. Lean meats like beef are also an excellent source of iron, but should be viewed with caution. A clean origin and proper preparation are important so that the expectant mother does not catch an infection.

Read more on this topic at: Iron Deficiency During Pregnancy