Iron is a vital mineral we cannot do without, especially important for the transport of oxygen throughout our body. Its significance is particularly pronounced for children and women, who are highly susceptible to anemia. Read on to discover how much iron you need per day as well as a variety of food sources to ensure you get the right amount.

Iron plays a crucial role in a multitude of bodily functions and is especially important for the production of hemoglobin, the protein responsible for oxygen transport. But here's the catch: imbalance. Too much or too little iron intake can lead to detrimental effects such as anemia and liver damage. So if you’re curious about how much iron is needed per day, dive into this article to uncover the daily iron requirements for optimum health and the top food sources to ensure you're getting the right amount.

Why Is Iron Important?

Iron deficiency is perhaps one of the most common nutritional deficiencies globally, and its importance is often overlooked. Listed below are the main functions of this essential mineral:

  • Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body
  • It is a part of myoglobin, which carries and stores oxygen specifically in muscle tissues
  • It plays a major role in brain and physical development of children

Not meeting your iron requirement per day can ultimately lead to a condition called anemia, where the body cannot produce enough healthy red blood cells and can cause health problems.

Iron Needs According to Sex and Age

Men, women and children require different levels of iron to meet the changing body’s needs. Listed below are iron requirements per day based on a person’s sex and age:

Gender/Age Iron Requirement per day (mg/d) Reason
Children 1-3y 8 The daily need of iron increases as infants and children need this essential nutrient for healthy brain and physical development.
Children 4-6y 11
Children 7-9y 15
Boys (10-12y) 16
Girls (10-12y) 28
Boys (13-15 years) 22 During adolescence, iron requirements are high as it helps with growth spurts. Teenage girls require a higher intake to compensate for the iron lost during menstruation.
Girls (13-15 years) 30
Boys (16-18 years) 26
Girls (16-18 years) 32
Women (Non-pregnant) 29 Women who experience menstruation have higher iron requirements because approximately 70% of the body's iron is found in the blood, with a daily loss of about 2 mg during the menstrual cycle as the uterine lining is shed. As women age and enter menopause, their daily need of iron decreases.
Men 19 As physical and brain growth gradually slows down, men's daily iron requirements stabilise during adulthood, with both younger and older adult men needing iron to support overall health.

With its involvement in so many bodily functions, it is thus important to meet the daily iron requirement.

Some Important Foods Sources for Iron

There are a plethora of choices to satisfy your taste buds while fulfilling your daily iron requirements. Let's explore some of these along with some easy to make, delicious recipes:

Food source Type Recipes
Millets Ragi, bajra Ragi porridge,
Bajra upma
Beans Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Soybeans Rajma curry,
Rajma vegetable khichdi
Lentils Green, Yellow And Red Lentils Rice dal khichdi,
Moong dal soup
Meat Chicken, Lamb, Liver, Pork Grill chicken sandwich,
Mutton masala curry
Eggs Any Cheese egg omelette,
Potato egg curry
Seafood Crabs, Clams, Shrimp, Tuna, Sardines Shrimp satay,
Crab congee
Vegetables Peas, String Beans, Broccoli, Spinach, Cabbage Palak curry,
Cabbage bhaji
Fruits Watermelons, Strawberries, And Pomegranates Watermelon lemon juice,
Strawberry smoothie
Dried Fruits Raisins, Figs, Dates, Prunes, Apricots Dry fruit smoothie,
Dry fruit bar

There are certain foods packed with vitamin C that can help make the iron in your diet more easily absorbed. These foods can help you meet your iron requirements and include:

Vegetables Green capsicum, Potatoes Capsicum tomato salad
Citrus Fruits Orange, Sweet Lime Orange mosambi juice

While there are many sources of iron, it's important to pay attention to our daily need of iron to ensure our bodies are getting enough to stay healthy.


Iron is a crucial mineral that should be included in both your and your child's diets. With countless delectable food options to choose from, you can create mouthwatering meals that meet your iron requirements. Remember, the daily need of iron varies for each individual, so it is crucial to customise dietary adjustments according to your specific health needs. Don't forget to consult a healthcare expert to determine your specific iron requirements and seek guidance if you notice any signs of anemia. It’s now time to embrace the benefits of this essential mineral and give your body the health boost it deserves!