Top sources of iron

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

Iron, we need it for oxygen transport, making DNA and moving electrons around our body (1), but if you’re following a healthy plant-based diet what is the best source?

When eating a vegetarian diet we absorb around 5-12% of the iron we consume (2,3), for a sneaky way to increase this percentage check back in on Friday. The amount we need per day according to the NHS (3) is as follows:

8.7mg a day for men over 18 14.8mg a day for women aged 19 to 50 8.7mg a day for women over 50

Even though the bio-availability (the amount absorbed) is low, with these potent plants and bad-boy beans you’ll have no problem hitting your daily needs.

Top 6 sources per 100g

1. Beans and legumes

Kidney beans - 9.35mg

Lentils - 7.39mg

Tofu - 5.3mg

2. Seeds

Sesame seeds - 14.76mg

Pumpkin seeds - 8.82mg

Chia seeds - 7.72mg

3. Vegetables

Sundried tomatoes - 9.1mg

Baked potatoes - 7mg

Spinach - 3.57mg

4. Fruit

Goji berries - 6.8mg

Dried apricots - 6.3mg

Prunes - 3.52mg

5. Spices (bear in mind you only have very small amounts of these, but it’s good to know which are the best)

thyme dried - 123.60mg basil, dried - 89.80mg Spearmint, dried - 87.47mg

6. Grains

Rice bran - 18.5mg

Wheat bran - 10.57mg

Source for food: USDA food database



Abbaspour, N., Hurrell, R. and Kelishadi, R., 2014. Review on iron and its importance for human health. Journal of research in medical sciences: the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, 19(2), p.164.

Aggett PJ. Iron. In: Erdman JW, Macdonald IA, Zeisel SH, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012:506-20.

Hurrell R, Egli I. Iron bioavailability and dietary reference values. Am J Clin Nutr 2010;91:1461S-7S. [PubMed abstract]



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