Iron helps the blood to carry oxygen throughout your body and keeps you from feeling tired. There are two types of iron found in food: heme iron and non-heme iron.

Heme iron is:

  • found in meat, poultry (like chicken) and fish
  • easily absorbed by the body

Non-heme iron is:

  • found in eggs and plant based foods
  • not as easily absorbed compared to heme iron

To help your body absorb non-heme iron (from eggs and plant based foods):

  • eat these foods together with foods high in vitamin C
  • include meat, chicken or fish with your meals
  • avoid drinking coffee and tea with your meals and snacks

Your Daily Iron Needs

Sources of Iron

Excellent Sources of Iron (at least 3.5 mg of iron or 25% DV per serving)

Food Sources Serving Size Milligrams (mg) of Iron % Daily Value (DV)
Animal Sources
Chicken liver*, cooked 75 g 9.7 70
Oysters, cooked 75 g 6.9 50
Mussels, cooked 75 g 5.0 35
Beef liver*, cooked 75 g 4.6 30
Plant Sources
Dried soybeans, boiled 175 mL 6.5 45
Lentils, boiled 175 mL 4.9 35
Pumpkin or squash seeds 60 mL 4.6 35
Instant oatmeal, regular (unsweetened) 175 mL 4.4 30
Kidney beans, chickpeas or black-eye peas, boiled 175 mL 3.5-3.9 25-30
Tofu, extra firm 150 mL 3.5 or higher (check label) 25 or higher (check label)
Whole grain or bran cereal 30 g 3.5 or higher (check label) 25 or higher (check label)

 

*Avoid liver, fish liver oil and other liver products during pregnancy. They are very high in a type of vitamin A that may lead to birth defects.

Health Canada’s Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide provides examples on how you can measure serving sizes.