Iron is a part of the structure of many very important body constituents, e.g. hemoglobin, myoglobin, enzymes like cytochromes, catalase, xanthine oxidase, etc. 

   Dietary Sources of Iron

Animal sources are the best and include live, meat, and egg yolk. Of the vegetables, spinach and other leafy vegetables are good sources. Dried fruits also contain appreciable amounts of iron. A fact of great importance is that milk is very low in iron (1 mg per liter). Cooking in iron utensils increases iron content of the foods.

   Recommended Daily Dietary Allowance

This differs according to the age and sex of the person.

Sex & Age New born Infant Child 8-10 years Adult male 22-35 Years Adult female 22-35 years Pregnancy Lactation
Amount of Iron(mg) 6 10 10 18 18 18

As iron is absorbed with difficulty, its much greater amounts have to be taken to compensate for a daily loss of 0.5 to 1mg in males and 1.5 to 2mg in adult females. The allowance for infants is very high in relation to their weight; for example it is 6 mg for a new born infant. An infant is born with an iron stock in his body which can the most last for the first 6 months of his life. Milk is deficient in iron and therefore the baby should be put on iron-containing foods at the about age of 4 months to avoid iron deficiency anemia.

   Iron Distribution in the Body

Total Iron= 3 to 5 grams

  • 66% in hemoglobin
  • 25% stored as ferritin present mainly in liver, spleen, bone marrow and small intestinal mucosal cells
  • 3% in myoglobin
  • 5% in other body cells
  • 1% in heme-containing enzymes