Getting Enough Iron


What is the recommended daily amount of iron?

The recommended daily amount of iron varies by age and sex. Most people need the following amount of iron each day.footnote 1

Recommended daily amount of iron from food


Life stage/age

Amount of daily iron (mg)


Adult (19 and older)



Adult (ages 51 and older)

Adult (ages 19 to 50)






9 to 10

Adolescents (ages 9 to 18)



8 to 15

8 to 11

Children (ages 1 to 8)

Ages 4 to 8

Ages 1 to 3



Infants (birth to 1 year)

7 months to 1 year

Birth to 6 months



What foods are high in iron?

The foods you eat contain nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. Iron is a nutrient. Your body needs the right amount to stay healthy and work as it should. You can use the list below to help you make choices about which foods to eat.

Here are some foods that contain iron. They have 1 to 2 milligrams of iron per serving.


  • Figs (dried), 5 figs


  • Asparagus (canned), 6 spears
  • Collard, beet, Swiss chard, or turnip greens, 1 cup
  • Dried peas, cooked, ½ cup
  • Seaweed, spirulina (dried), ¼ cup
  • Spinach, (cooked) ½ cup or (raw) 1 cup


  • Cereals, fortified with iron, 1 cup
  • Grits (instant, cooked), fortified with iron, ½ cup

Meats and other protein foods

  • Beans (kidney, lima, navy, white), canned or cooked, ½ cup
  • Beef or lamb, 3 oz
  • Chicken giblets, 3 oz
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), ½ cup
  • Liver of beef, lamb, or pork, 3 oz
  • Oysters (cooked), 3 oz
  • Sardines (canned), 3 oz
  • Soybeans (boiled), ½ cup
  • Tofu (firm), ½ cup

Work with your doctor to find out how much of this nutrient you need. Depending on your health, you may need more or less of it in your diet.



  1. Food and Nutrition Board, et al. (2011). Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes, elements. National Institutes of Health. Accessed October 29, 2019.


Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

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