All you need to know about iron

Is your family getting enough iron? 

co-writer Noemi Jimenez (Nutrition Student) 

Iron is an important mineral that helps transport oxygen throughout your body. It’s not uncommon for children to become iron deficient. Fortunately, if detected early, low-iron is easily treated with a well-balanced diet. A registered dietitian can help by providing you with information about vitamin and mineral supplements, meal planning, and individualized nutrition care for your child’s growth and development.

Two different types of iron found in food: Heme Iron Vs. Non-heme Iron

Heme iron is easily absorbed by the body and is found in animal foods like red meats, poultry, and fish.


Non-heme iron is found in plant foods like leafy greens, legumes, nuts, dried fruits and fortified foods such as grains, infant formulas, and cereals. Although plant foods do contain a lot of non-heme iron, this iron is difficult for the body to absorb. Vitamin C helps increase iron absorption. Combining iron-rich plant foods with Vitamin C-rich foods is important.

Foods high in Vitamin C

broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, oranges, peppers, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, sweet potatoes.

Dairy products are low in iron and will also make it difficult to increase iron absorption. Milk products will also make your child feel full and decrease the amount of other iron-rich foods that they eat. If your child consumes a significant amount of dairy foods including milk, cheese, and yogurt, find ways of reducing the number of dairy products consumed to lower the risk of iron deficiency.

Iron-Rich Meals:

  • Eggs with tomatoes, peppers, or broccoli

  • Spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce

  • Orange or citrus juice with iron-fortified cereals

  • Whole grain crackers with peanut butter

  • Tuna sandwich with whole wheat bread and spinach leaves and tomato

  • Chicken, brown rice, broccoli, and cauliflower

  • Hard-boiled egg with fresh fruit cup (strawberries, oranges)

  • Beef burrito with tomato, onion, and greens

  • Oatmeal topped with dried fruits

If you would like to know exactly how much iron your child needs, take a look at my "cheat sheet" below! 

Iron Guide kids.png
Naureen Hunani