How do I get enough iron?

Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in Australia. Hopefully this guide will give you a good idea how to get the iron you need in your diet.

Eat foods containing iron:

The food group that has iron as its star feature is the meat and alternatives group:

  • Red meat has a well-deserved reputation when it comes to iron – it is definitely very high in iron, and easily absorbed.
  • Other meats, including poultry, pork and seafood also have easily absorbed iron, if not in quite the same amounts.
  • All the same, vegetarian meat alternatives, including eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu and legumes (chickpeas, baked beans, lentils etc) are excellent sources of iron too.

Making sure you get the recommended number of serves of those foods will go a long way to making sure you get enough iron. (2-3 serves depending on your age and gender)

Other good sources are the dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach and swiss chard. You’ll also find some foods are fortified with iron, such as bread, breakfast cereal, and even Milo.


Eating foods high in vitamin C with iron:

Having food high in vitamin C with your iron sources will help absorb the iron even better. These include –

  • Vegetables, such as capsicum and tomatoes, dark green leafy, brassica (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts), peas and okra.
  • Fruit and fruit juices, particularly citrus, such as oranges, and berries.


Avoiding iron absorption inhibitors:

Calcium can reduce your iron absorption. If you take a calcium supplement, then don’t take it with your iron foods. Have at least one dairy-free meal each day to maximise your absorption.

Tea and coffee can also reduce iron absorption. Consider having your caffeine fix between meals, or just having one cup a day with your breakfast and not your lunch and dinner.

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