The amount of iron we absorb from food is variable.  Its is assumed to be around 15-20% but depends our our health, age, sex and iron status but also the availability of iron in the food itself, known as bioavailability. Toddlers and teenage girls have high needs for iron, and are at risk of iron deficiency anaemia.  Iron is needed for vitality, concentration, stamina and building muscle. Maximise your iron intake from the foods your eat.

  • Avoid drinking milk with a meal as it reduces absorption
  • Do include fruits and vegetables with a meal; the Vitamin C increases absorption
  • Avoid giving children tea; the tannins bind iron and reduce absorption
  • Foods containing haem-iron in red meat, meat products and eggs are better absorbed
  • Foods containing non-haem-iron found in cereals, fruits, nuts and vegetables are less well absorbed
  • Eating red meat twice a week, 3 eggs per week and daily consumption of fruits and vegetables should meet the needs of most children and teens
  • Vegetarian and vegan school children generally have lower iron status but get iron from beans, pulses, nuts, fruits, cereals and vegetables
  • Toddlers can reduce the risk of iron deficiency by having water with main meals instead of milk