Advertisement

Is there a type of iron that is better absorbed than others?

Brian Tanzer
Nutrition & Dietetics

The body is more efficient at absorbing iron from animal foods (heme iron) than plant foods (non-heme iron). In addition to consuming meat, one could help increase absorption of non-heme iron by consuming this form of iron along with vitamin C. Many vegetables contain vitamin C and non-heme iron and therefore work synergistically to ensure adequate iron absorption. One could also drizzle lemon juice or other sources of vitamin C on plant-sources of iron to help increase absorption. As far as iron supplements are concerned, look for iron as iron-bisglycinate. It is gentle on the stomach and intestinal tract and has been shown to be better absorbed than the more commonly used iron supplement ferrous sulfate.

Kat Barefield, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Yes, heme iron found in lean meat, seafood and poultry is absorbed more readily than non-heme iron contained in enriched cereals, breads, spinach, beans and lentils. Having a food with vitamin C (tomatoes, tomato sauce, citrus fruits, peppers) helps increase iron absorption. Women who are capable of becoming pregnant are at risk of iron deficiency because iron is lost each month due to menstrual cycles.
Yes. Iron in foods comes in two forms, heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal products like red meat. Non-heme iron is found in both animal and plant products. Our body absorbs more heme iron than non-heme iron.

Continue Learning about Minerals

Feel Stronger with This Mineral
Feel Stronger with This Mineral
Been feeling like a wet dishrag lately? Could be you're low on magnesium. Magnesium is a multitasking mineral, and one of its jobs is to power up our...
Read More
What minerals do I need in my diet?
Dr. Michael Roizen, MDDr. Michael Roizen, MD
A number of minerals are found in either large or trace amounts in our bodies, all of which are nece...
More Answers
What is manganese?
Dr. Spencer D. Kroll, MDDr. Spencer D. Kroll, MD
Manganese deficiency is NOT related to high cholesterol. Nor is supplementation with manganese sugge...
More Answers
Selenium Keeps You Young
Selenium Keeps You Young

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.