By

A member of the British Dietetic Association, Juliette Kellow has worked in the NHS and for the food industry, and is the former editor of magazines Slimming and Top Santé. She's also the former editorial...

Iron deficiency is a problem for many and can result in anaemia. Make sure you’re getting enough of this important mineral in your diet with our pointers…

How much iron do we need each day?

On food labels, you’ll see the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) for iron is 14mg. This is the figure that appears on food packaging throughout the EU, but the UK has the following, more detailed, guidelines for iron needs at specific ages and stages in life.

boost iron

Who’s missing out?

Intakes of this mineral are a problem for many groups, especially children and menstruating women – 8% of 18-month to three-year-olds, 5% of teenage boys, 44% of teenage girls and 22% of women have exceptionally low intakes.

Iron is important for…

Making red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body. Insufficient amounts can result in anaemia.

You can find iron in…

Liver, lean red meat, shellfish, eggs, fortified cereals, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and dark green leafy veg.

Boost your intake

– Enjoy small portions of lean red meat – the darker the meat, the more iron it has (eat beef or lamb).
– Go for the dark meat of chicken – it has double the amount of iron.
– Enjoy liver occasionally if you’re not pregnant or planning a pregnancy (see vitamin A).
– Swap cheese sandwiches for eggs or mash egg with light mayo to top a jacket potato.
– Snack on a hard-boiled egg.
– Choose fortified cereals, – look for those with the most iron.
– Have baked beans on toast for lunch – make your own, using our healthy baked beans recipe or choose tins that are lower in sugar and salt.
– Eating out? Order mussels, cockles, clams, crayfish or brown crabmeat – all contain iron.
– Add a handful of cashew nuts to stir-fries – they contain the most iron of all nuts. Or sprinkle with iron-rich sesame seeds.
– Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron from non-meat foods, so team foods rich in this vitamin with iron-rich foods. Good choices include citrus fruits and juices, berries and tomatoes.