Iron


Actions/Claims:

A critical role of iron is to transport oxygen through the body. It is also involved in aerobic energy production.

Research Results:

Inadequate amounts of iron in the body can reduce performance during an activity. Females are at greater risk than males of having poor iron status for two reasons. First, they need more iron to cover menstrual losses. Second, they tend to have less in their daily diets because they consume fewer calories. Iron in our diets comes in two forms. One form is only found in animal foods like beef, chicken, and fish and is called heme iron. The other form, nonheme iron, is found in both animal and plant foods (such as grains, fruits and vegetables). Heme iron is better absorbed than nonheme iron. To improve nonheme iron absorption from foods, eat the food with a source of vitamin C.

Cautions:

Iron supplements aren't for everyone. If you plan to take supplements, you should have your iron status checked, and follow the recommendations of your health professional. In the meantime, you can check out some iron-rich foods and see if you're including them in your daily diet.

Good sources of iron include:

  • Lean meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fortified cereals (check label for exact amount)

RDA for Iron (female)
Age (years) Iron (mg)
18–50 15
51+ 10
Pregnant 30
Nursing 15

RDA for Iron (male)
Age (years) Iron (mg)
18 15
19–51+ 10

Return to Supplement Guide