What is the Recommended Dietary Allowance for iron in my diet?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron varies based on age and sex. Here's the breakdown to determine how much iron you and your family members need every day:
  • For infants ages 7-12 months, 11 mg
  • For children ages 1-3, 7 mg
  • For children ages 4-8, 10 mg
  • For children ages 9-13, 8 mg
  • For girls ages 14-18, 15 mg
  • For boys ages 14-18, 11mg
  • For women ages 19-50, 18 mg
  • For pregnant women ages 14-50, 27 mg
  • For lactating women ages 14-18, 10 mg
  • For lactating women ages 19-50, 9 mg
  • For men ages 19-50, 8 mg
  • For everyone over 51, 8 mg
Those at risk for iron-deficiency include infants, adolescents, menstruating women, and pregnant women. An iron supplement for pregnant women is usually recommended since a deficiency can cause low birth weight or pre-term babies.

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Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics
Iron recommendations vary by age and gender.

The adult female requires 18 milligrams per day, while adult males require 8 milligrams (ages 19-50).

All individuals 70 years of age or older require 8 milligrams of iron.

Teenagers require more iron: Females need 15 milligrams and males require 11 milligrams.

A woman who breastfeeds require 9-10 milligrams. A woman during pregnancy requires 27 milligrams.

Iron is necessary for cell growth and oxygen delivery to cells of the body. Iron can be obtained from foods such as red meat, poultry, fish, iron-enriched grains, beans and lentils.
Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
A few things to consider: are you diagnosed iron-deficient anemic? If so, you may need supplementation -- but not all supplements are created equal (some can lead to constipation). Not all foods contain the same iron -- there's heme and non-heme (animal vs vegetarian sources). And vitamin C can increase the absorption of iron so having some sauteed greens or tomatoes with hemp seeds (a food rich in iron) can really help!
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
The RDA for iron varies for individuals based upon age and gender.
  • Infants 0-6 months: 0.27mg, 7-12 months:11mg
  • Children 1-3 yrs: 7mg, 4-8 yrs: 10mg
  • Males 9-13 yrs: 8mg, 14-18yrs: 11mg, 19-30yrs: 8mg, 31-50yrs: 8mg, 50-70yrs: 8mg, > 70yrs: 8mg
  • Females 9-13 yrs: 8mg, 14-18yrs: 15mg, 19-30yrs: 18mg, 31-50yrs: 18mg, 50-70yrs: 8mg, > 70yrs: 8mg
  • Pregnancy <18-50 yrs: 27mg
  • Lactation <18 yrs: 10mg, 19-50 yrs: 9mg
  • Food Sources: Fruits, vegetables, fortified bread and grain products such as cereal are a good source of non-heme iron. Meat and poultry are good heme iron sources.
Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics
The recommended dietary allowance for iron is dependent on your age and your gender. For men that are 19-50 years old, 8 milligrams per day is the requirement. For women that are 19-50 years old, the requirement is 18 milligrams per day due to the loss of blood, as well as iron, through monthly menses. 

Good dietary sources of iron include lean beef and iron fortified cereals.   
Molly Morgan
Nutrition & Dietetics
The RDA is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (approximately 98 percent) healthy individuals. The amount for most vitamins and minerals varies based on age and gender. Here is the breakdown for iron needs for the different age levels:
  • 7-12 months: Males 11 mg/day, Females 11 mg/day
  • 1-3 years: Males 7 mg/day, Females 7 mg/day
  • 4-8 years: Males 10 mg/day, Females 10 mg/day
  • 9-13 years: Males 8 mg/day, Females 8 mg/day
  • 14-18 years: Males 11 mg/day, Females 15 mg/day*
  • 14-18 years*: Females Pregnancy: 27 mg/day, Lactation 10 mg/day
  • 19-50 years: Males 8 mg/day, Females 18 mg/day*
  • 19-50 years*: Females Pregnancy: 27 mg/day and Lactation: 9 mg/day
  • 51+ years: Males 8 mg/day, Females 8 mg/day
For more information on iron, check out this fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health:
Cindy Guirino
Nutrition & Dietetics
Postmenopausal women and men require the same amount of iron -- only 8 milligrams a day so make sure your multivitamin and mineral supplement does not contain iron because you will get enough from eating a well-balanced diet. Iron is found naturally in clams, beef, beans, spinach, swiss chard, and liver. If you consume an enriched cereal you can obtain the RDA (for men and postmenopausal women) in just one cup since it has 8.1 mg of iron in it.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

The RDA of iron for females is as follows: pregnant 27 milligrams (mg); lactating 10 mg, age 19 to 50, 18 mg, and over age 51, 8 mg. The RDA for iron for males age 19 and above is 8 mg. Some good sources of iron include 1 cup of fortified oatmeal which contains 10 mg, 1 cup of boiled lentils is 6.6 mg, 3 ounces of beef tenderloin cooked is 3 mg, 1/2 cup of spinach cooked is 3.2 mg, 1/2 cup of raisins is 1.5 mg, and 1/2 cup of raw tofu is 3.5 mg.

Nadine Pazder
Nutrition & Dietetics
The latest term is "Dietary Reference Intake" and like the RDA, it is specific to gender and age: for males over the age of 18 yrs is 8 mg; women age 19-50 yrs is 18 mg, women over the age of 50 yrs is 8 mg; pregnant women of any age is 27 mg; breastfeeding mothers under the age of 19 yrs is 10 mg; breastfeeding mothers over the age of 19 yrs is 9 mg.

Whenever possible, iron intake should come from food sources first and by supplement at the direction of your healthcare provider or Registered Dietitian.
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

The RDA for iron varies with age and gender. For instance, a male between the ages of 19-30 years old would need 8 mg/day. A female between the ages of 19-30 years old would need 18 mg/day. While these are great guidelines, some individuals require additional iron due to an increased risk of iron deficiency. Babies, young children, women who are undergoing heavy menstrual cycles, pregnant woman, and anyone experiencing rapid growth could benefit from additional iron. This can be achieved via diet modification or supplementation. 

Kelly Shaughnessy
Nutrition & Dietetics
According to the Food and Nutrition Information Center of the USDA, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron is 8 mg per day for males ages 19 and older, 18 mg per day for women between the ages of 19 to 50, and 8 mg per day for women ages 51 and older. However, the RDA for iron in pregnant women is increased to 27 mg per day. To put these RDAs into perspective, according to the National Institutes of Health: about 1 cup of iron fortified cereal has between 10-18 mg of iron, 1 cup of pinto or black beans has about 3.6 mg of iron, 1/2 cup of cooked spinach has about 3.2 mg of iron, and 3 ounces of beef tenderloin (the size of a deck of cards) has 3 mg of iron. You can also find more about dietary iron on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at

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