How much iron you need daily depends on your age, gender, and pregnancy status. Women need more iron before menopause due to menstruation; women need more iron in pregnancy due to the iron requirements of growing a baby.
The two times in life nutritionists recommend supplementing for iron is in infancy and pregnancy. In infancy, mother’s milk is often deficient in iron due to insufficient iron in pregnancy.
In the table at left, select your gender and age to determine your daily iron requirements (and keep reading below).
To give you a sense of the iron content of foods, we examine high iron foods below relative to the iron requirement of a 30-year-old woman. Men will need about half this level of iron but the figures below will give you the relative levels across foods.
Your best sources of iron come from meat-based foods. Clam is an extremely good source of iron as are giblets and liver. You may stew giblets into broth or gravy but you can also just eat regular old beef. It is also a good source. You will absorb the iron in these animal-based foods well. In fact, they will help you absorb more iron from the grains and beans that you eat. Integrating more of these foods into your diet should improve your iron status.
In the graph below I list plant-based sources of iron. These are good options too however consider that if you are low in iron and if your diet contains little meat, you will benefit from reading more about increasing your absorption of iron through kitchen preparation techniques. Read more about soaking beans to improve your iron absorption.