An essential mineral which plays a vital role in forming haemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body, assists in energy-producing chemical reactions and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Low iron levels lead to anaemia.
There are two types of iron in food - haem iron is found in animal foods while non-haem iron is found in eggs and plant foods such as legumes, cereal grains, nuts, seeds and dark green leafy vegetables.
Non-haem iron isn’t as well absorbed by the body but including foods high in vitamin C at the same meal can improve absorption. Tea and coffee can inhibit the absorption of iron.
Women 19-50 years - 32mg
Women over 51 years - 14mg
Pregnancy - 48mg
Breastfeeding - 16-18mg
Men - 14mg
Tips for meeting your iron needs:
Eat legumes, tofu, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains regularly
Include a vitamin C-rich fruit or vegetable at each meal (such as berries, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, capsicum, spinach and broccoli)
Limit your intake of tea and coffee to between meals rather than with meals
Source: Dr Kate Marsh BSc, MNutrDiet, PhD, Grad Cert Diab Edn & Mgt Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian