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Who needs iron and when?

Who needs iron and when?

July 15, 2021

Certain groups of people are more likely than others to have low iron levels

Pregnant women.

 A pregnant woman requires more iron than normal to support her body and her growing baby. Insufficient iron during pregnancy can result in low birthweight infants, premature birth and iron deficiency anaemia in the mother. Getting too little iron might also harm her infants brain development. Breast milk contains highly bioavailable iron but in amounts that are not sufficient to meet the needs of infants older than 4 to 6 months.


Teen girls and young women with heavy periods.

Frequent blood donors.

People with cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, or heart failure.

How much iron do you need?

People should get most of their nutrients, vitamins and minerals from food and beverages however during specific life stages, such as pregnancy or infancy, it is important to ensure your body is getting enough iron.

Iron is found naturally in many foods and is also added to some foods (called iron fortified foods).


Typical iron-containing foods include:

Average daily recommended amounts and daily upper limits:

Ages Daily recommended amount Upper limit*
Birth to 6 months 0.27 mg 40 mg
Infants 7 – 12 months 11 mg
Children 1 – 3 years 7 mg 
Children 4 – 8 years 10 mg 
Children 9 – 13 years 8 mg 
Teens: boys 14 – 18 years 11 mg 45 mg
Teens: girls 14 – 18 years 15 mg
Adult men 19 – 50 years  8 mg
Adult women 19 – 50 years  18 mg
Adults 51 years and older 8 mg
Pregnant teens/women 27 mg
Breastfeeding teens 10 mg
Breastfeeding women 9 mg
* Your doctor may prescribe more than the upper limit of iron if requiring higher doses to treat iron deficiency

Average daily recommended amounts and daily upper limits:

Dietary iron comes in 2 forms: heme and non-heme iron. Heme iron is easier for the body to absorb than non-heme.


Heme iron

Non-heme iron

Plant foods and iron-fortified foods


Meat, seafood, poultry

Iron from vegetables, fruits, gains and supplements is harder for the body to absorb. If you eat a plant-based diet, it is good to include food items high in vitamin C.

  • Mixing iron rich vegetables with iron-rich meat will improve the total iron absorption.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C (citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and potatoes) can also increase iron absorption from non-heme sources of food.

Iron supplements.

There are different forms of iron salts used in different supplements, these include ferrous and ferric salts. Ferrous iron is more bioavailable than ferric iron and is used more often in oral supplements.

The importance of elemental iron. What is elemental iron?

Elemental iron is the total amount of iron in the supplement available for absorption by your body. Each type of iron has a different percent of elemental iron. Always check how much elemental iron your supplement releases for your body and for your recommended intake. 

For more information on amounts of elemental iron in Chela-fer® range of products, click here.

Chelated iron

Many minerals are difficult for your body to absorb. To achieve better absorption minerals are often chelated (bound to) other compounds that increase the absorption of the complex and boost your body’s uptake of the mineral at hand. 

Chela-fer® utilises this process: the iron is chelated which means that a smaller dose of iron can be administered as its absorption is better than non-chelated forms of the same iron. This is beneficial as less side effects are likely and there is less chance of iron overload (taking too much iron). 

For more on benefits of taking chelated iron and Chela-fer®, click here.


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