Many processed foods these days are fortified with iron. However, significant amounts of dietary iron can come naturally from animal and plant sources.
There are two forms of iron found in natural and whole foods: heme and non-heme.
Heme iron comes from hemoglobin, a protein found in the red blood cells of animals. It can be obtained from eating red meat, fish, and poultry.
Non-heme iron is found in plant foods. Sources of non-heme iron include many legumes, seeds and a few vegetables.
Here are some of the best plant sources:
- White beans
- Kidney beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Sufficient amounts of iron can be obtained from animal and plant sources in a balanced diet and iron supplements are not usually needed with a proper diet. Vegetarians that eat many of the above plant foods can obtain the recommended daily allowance through these whole foods.
The recommended daily amounts of iron for different age groups can be found through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.