What is the role of iron in my diet and how can I include more?

In this article, we will be discussing the importance of iron in our diets, its benefits and potential side-effects if not taken in appropriate amounts. We will also explore various ways to include more iron-rich foods in your daily meals, backed by scientific research and studies . By the end, you should have a better understanding of why iron is essential for your body and how to effectively incorporate it into your diet.

The Importance of Iron in Our Diet

Iron is an essential nutrient for our bodies. It plays a vital role in numerous bodily functions, most notably, the production of hemoglobin - a protein in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. Without sufficient iron, our bodies can't produce enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells, leading to iron deficiency anemia, which is characterized by fatigue, weakness, and a decreased immune function.

According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, iron also supports growth, development, normal cellular functioning, and synthesis of some hormones and connective tissue.

However, like anything else, too much iron can also be harmful. Excessive iron intake can lead to conditions like hemochromatosis, where the body stores too much iron, potentially damaging organs like the heart and liver. Therefore, it's important to strike a balance in your iron intake.

Getting Started with Iron-Rich Foods

It's crucial to note that there are two types of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal products and is absorbed more efficiently by our bodies, while non-heme iron is found in plants and is less readily absorbed. However, consuming vitamin C with non-heme iron foods can increase absorption.

According to a report by the National Institutes of Health, adult males need about 8mg of iron daily, while women aged 19-50 require 18mg. Post-menopausal women and men should aim for 8mg daily.

Examples of Iron-Rich Foods

Additional Tips

While including iron-rich foods in your diet is crucial, there are other ways to enhance iron absorption. For example, combining iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C can help increase iron absorption. Additionally, cooking in cast iron pans can actually increase the iron content of your food. However, certain foods like coffee, tea, and foods high in calcium can inhibit iron absorption, so it's recommended to consume these foods at different times than your iron-rich foods.


In conclusion, iron plays a vital role in our body functions, notably in oxygen transportation and cellular functions. Including iron-rich foods in your diet is essential for maintaining good health. However, remember that balance is key - while iron deficiency can lead to anemia, excessive iron can also harm your organs. So, make sure to incorporate iron in your diet wisely and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.