Vitamins and minerals - Iron 

  • Overview

Iron 

Iron is an essential mineral that has several important roles in the body.

For example, it helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body.

A lack of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.

Good sources of iron

Good sources of iron include:

  • liver
  • meat
  • beans
  • nuts
  • dried fruit, such as dried apricots
  • wholegrains, such as brown rice
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • soybean flour
  • most dark-green leafy vegetables, such as watercress and curly kale

Although liver is a good source of iron, do not eat it if you are pregnant. This is because it is also rich in vitamin A, which can damage your unborn baby in large amounts.

How much iron do I need?

The amount of iron you need is:

  • 8.7mg a day for men
  • 14.8mg a day for women

You should be able to get all the iron you need from your daily diet.

Women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period (heavy periods) may need to take iron supplements. Speak to your GP or a state-registered dietitian for more advice.

What happens if I take too much iron?

The side effects of taking high doses (over 20mg) of iron include:

Very high doses of iron can be fatal, particularly if taken by children, so always keep iron supplements out of the reach of children.

What does the Department of Health advise?

Most people should be able to get all the iron they need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take iron supplements, do not take too much because this could be harmful.

Taking 20mg or less a day of iron supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. However, continue taking a higher dose if advised to by your GP.


Page last reviewed: 26/11/2012

Next review due: 26/11/2014

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Comments

The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

iamnotamuse said on 13 December 2013

"This is because it is also rich in vitamin A, which can damage your unborn baby in large amounts."

The clause is stylistically problematic, though technically accurate.

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BalaRaju said on 25 July 2012

I have a question regarding your advise "Taking 17mg or less a day of iron supplements is unlikely to cause any harm".
Does it indicate 17mg of iron supplements or 17mg of elemental iron?
From what I understand going through various articles in the net is that elemental iron is only a certain percentage (around 30%) of iron supplements (such as ferrous fumarate)

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