Iron carries oxygen in the blood to the organs and muscles and is important for growth and development in all children.
Infants aged 0-6 months need 0.27 mg per day; babies 7-12 months old need 11 mg per day; toddlers age 1-3 years need 7 mg per day; and children aged 4-8 years need 10 mg per day.
There are two types of iron: heme, from animal sources, and non-heme, from plant sources.
Good sources of heme iron are: chicken liver, oysters, beef liver, beef cuts and ground beef, turkey (dark meat), tuna canned in water, turkey (light meat), chicken (light and dark meat), fresh tuna, crab, pork, shrimp, and halibut.
Good sources of non-heme iron are ready-to-eat cereals, oatmeal, soybeans, lentils, beans (kidney, lima, black-eyed peas, navy, black, pinto), tofu, spinach, raisins, molasses, and commercially prepared white and wheat bread. Non-heme iron isn’t absorbed by the body as well as heme iron sources. To improve non-heme iron absorption, pair these foods with a vitamin C food source like citrus fruits and juices, tomato, and red pepper.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, September 2020