Dear Alice,

Are there any fruit sources of iron?


Dear MD,

Even though we usually only think of meat and spinach as being iron rich, there are many different fruit sources of iron. Good fruit sources of iron include watermelon, raisins, grapefruit, and dried apricots. You can also find iron in tomatoes, apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, and avocados. Even prune juice can be a good source of iron. Iron is an essential nutrient because it assists enzymes in the production of amino acids, hormones, and neurotransmitters. It is also a major component of hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen in red blood cells.

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron for women ages 19-50 is 15 milligrams. For women over the age of 51, it is10 milligrams. For males, the RDI is 10 milligrams per day. If you are having difficulty incorporating iron-rich foods into your daily diet, you might want to try adding raisins to your cereal in the morning. A half cup of raisins will provide 2.5 milligrams. If you like to drink some juice in the morning, a cup of grapefruit juice will provide 1 milligram of iron. While these sources may not provide you will the all of the daily recommended amount of iron, adding them can be good start.

Other iron-rich foods that can help you achieve the recommended daily amounts would be meats (which are rich in iron), oysters, tofu, kidney beans, and spinach. To make the most of the iron available in foods, eat them along with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits. Research has shown that vitamin C greatly increases the body’s ability to absorb iron.

You may want to keep in mind that some foods actually interfere with iron absorption. These include phytates and fibers in whole grain cereals and nuts, calcium and phosphorus in milk, the chemical EDTA in food additives, and tannic acid that appears in tea, coffee, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables. You might want to avoid eating these foods with iron rich foods if you’re trying to increase the iron your body absorbs.

If you have other questions about nutrition or diet you may want to speak to your health care provider or a nutritionist. Columbia students at the Morningside campus can use Open Communicator  or call 212-854-7426 to make an appointment with either a medical provider or Registered Dietician at Medical Services. Columbia students at the Medical Center can reach out to the Center for Student Wellness or Student Health.


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