Iron

Learn to make healthier food choices by using the Nutrition Facts table on prepackaged foods. Iron is found in the Nutrition Facts table.

What is iron?

Iron is a mineral that is important for your health. Iron plays many different roles in the body:

  • Helps produce red blood cells.
  • Transports oxygen throughout the body.

Did you know?

There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme iron. In the Nutrition Facts table, the nutrition information includes both types of iron.

Where can you find iron?

Iron can be found in:

  • Dried fruits such as apricots, prunes, raisins
  • Eggs
  • Fish and seafood
  • Enriched grain products like breakfast cereal and pasta
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, soybeans
  • Meat such as beef, lamb, pork, veal
  • Poultry like chicken and turkey
  • Some vegetables like asparagus and spinach

How can you make a healthier choice?

  • Use the % Daily Value (% DV) in the Nutrition Facts table.
  • Remember: 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot for all nutrients.
  • Iron is a nutrient you may want more of.

Where can you find heme iron?

Heme iron is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme iron. Heme iron can be found in:

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry

Where can you find non-heme iron?

Most iron in the diet is non-heme iron. It can be found in:

  • Eggs
  • Fortified grain products like cereal and pasta
  • Dried fruits
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils, peas, soybeans
  • Vegetables

Helpful tips

Your body will absorb more non-heme iron if you eat foods that are high in vitamin C at the same meal. Vitamin C is found in foods such as:

  • Broccoli
  • Citrus fruits and juices such as orange, grapefruit, tangerine
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet peppers

Helpful hints at the grocery store

  • Always look at the Nutrition Facts table to choose and compare foods.
  • To get enough iron, choose a variety of foods such as lean meats, fish, poultry, beans and lentils.
  • Eating foods rich in vitamin C may help your body absorb iron from non-heme sources. Put vitamin C-rich foods in your cart. Try citrus fruit, strawberries and sweet peppers.
  • Choose grain products that are fortified with iron.

How is the % DV for iron calculated?

The Daily Value used in nutrition labelling is based on 14 mg of iron for a reference diet.

For example, if a food product has 2 mg of iron, the product would have a % Daily Value for iron of 14%.
(2 mg ÷ 14 mg) × 100 = 14%.

Remember: 5% DV or less is a little and 15% DV or more is a lot for all nutrients.

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