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Frequently Asked Questions

My daughter has anemia due to an iron deficiency. What kinds of foods contain iron?


Iron is a vital nutrient. Iron is needed in order for haemoglobin (the red pigment in blood) to work properly and carry oxygen to all the body`s cells. A lack of iron leads to tiredness and may affect memory and learning abilities. Women and young girls who are dieting, eat little meat, poultry and fish or are strict vegetarians are particularly at risk of depleting the body`s iron reserves and experiencing symptoms of deficiency.

In our diets, red meats are the best source of iron; it can also be found in liver, oily fish, the dark meat of chicken and turkey, some nuts, seeds, dried fruits, dark green vegetables, and fortified breakfast cereals. Iron from animal sources (haem iron) is absorbed more easily than iron from plant sources (non-haem iron). About 15% to 25% of iron in diets containing meat or fish is absorbed. Absorption of non-haem iron is affected by various factors in food.  Phytates (in cereals and pulses), fibre, tannins (in tea and coffee), and calcium can bind non-haem iron, which reduces absorption. The absorption of iron can be improved when accompanied by foods rich in Vitamin C (e.g. citrus fruits, berries, kiwi fruit, peppers and potatoes).

Further information:

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The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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This site was last updated 26/05/2016
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