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Everybody needs iron. Iron carries oxygen in the blood to all parts of your body. Iron also helps prevent anemia, which makes a person tired, irritable, pale, and short of breath.

Children with iron deficiency anemia score lower on tests and are poor learners. Causes of anemia may include:

  • Heavy blood loss
  • Frequent pregnancies
  • Poor diet
  • Too much milk (>24 ounces a day)

Please note: Infants who are not breastfed need to be fed iron-fortified formula.

Sources of Iron

One high source meets your daily iron needs:

  • WIC cereals 
  • Pork Liver & Heart
  • Chicken Liver
  • Beef Kidney

Two good sources meet your daily iron needs:

  • Lean red-meat, fish, poultry
  • Prune juice (prunes)
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables (turnip, mustard, collard, spinach)
  • Oysters, clams
  • Dried beans and peas
  • Green lima beans
  • Dried fruit

A variety of 5 or more fair sources meet your daily iron needs.

  • Eggs
  • Enriched cereals
  • Enriched bread, pasta
  • Blackberries, strawberries
  • Green peas, black-eyed peas

Try these dishes that are high in iron

  • Creamed eggs on toast (use enriched bread)
  • Baked beans
  • Carrot and raisin salad
  • Oatmeal cookies with raisins
  • Stewed apricots
  • Common foods with iron

Other fun facts about Iron:

  • Iron from animal foods such as meat is absorbed by the body easier than iron from plant foods.
  • Cooking high acid foods (tomatoes in spaghetti sauce or chili) in iron pots increases the amount of iron in foods.
  • Liver is a high source of iron & vitamin A. Liver is not recommended for pregnant women because it is such a high source of the type of vitamin A that can cause birth defects. Other foods that contain both iron & vitamin A do not cause birth defects.

Please note: Too much iron can be harmful. Do not misuse iron pills. Be careful to store pills that contain iron (such as prenatal vitamins with iron) out of a child’s reach.

Iron & Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps your body to use the iron you eat.

Foods high in vitamin C include: 

  • Oranges/orange juice, grapefruit, kiwi, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes
  • Broccoli, raw cabbage, and dark green leafy vegetables like turnip, mustard, collard, and spinach

Source: USDA Infant Feeding & Nutrition – A Guide for Use in WIC

This post was last updated on December 18th, 2019 at 4:19 PM

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