Iron-Rich Diet: Care Instructions

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Overview

Your body needs iron to make a protein called hemoglobin. This protein is found in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the cells in your body. If you don't get enough iron, your body makes fewer and smaller red blood cells. As a result, your body's cells may not get enough oxygen.

Most people can get the iron their bodies need by eating enough iron-rich foods. Your doctor may advise you to take an iron supplement along with eating an iron-rich diet.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Make iron-rich foods a part of your daily diet. Iron-rich foods include:
    • All meats, such as chicken, beef, lamb, pork, fish, and shellfish. Liver is very high in iron.
    • Leafy green vegetables. Examples are spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard.
    • Raisins, peas, beans, lentils, barley, and eggs.
    • Iron-fortified grain products. These include breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, and other grain products.
  • Have foods and drinks that contain vitamin C when you eat iron-rich foods. Vitamin C helps you absorb more iron from food. Foods with vitamin C include tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and citrus fruit or juice.

How much iron do you need?

The recommended daily amount of iron varies. Most people need the following amount of iron each day.

Recommended daily amount of iron from food

Group

Age

Amount of daily iron

Adults

Ages 19 and older

Ages 19 to 50 (who menstruate)

8 mg.

18 mg.

Pregnant

Ages 14 to 50

27 mg.

Lactating

Ages 14 to 18

Ages 19 to 50

10 mg.

9 mg.

Adolescents

Ages 9 to 13

Ages 14 to 18

Ages 14 to 18 (who menstruate)

8 mg.

11 mg.

15 mg.

Children

Ages 1 to 3

Ages 4 to 8

7 mg.

10 mg.

Infants

Birth to 6 months

7 to 12 months

0.27 mg.

11 mg.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.