How Much Iron Do You Need?

Iron symbol

Our need for iron differs according to age, sex, stage of growth and development, reproductive state, and so on.

In Nigeria, we have a large number of women, especially those of reproductive age (15-49 years), who are dealing with iron deficiency anaemia. Women in this age group go through menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation, amongst other things, which increase their demand for iron.

Adolescence is another period of intense growth and development where nutrient needs at their highest. While boys age 14 -19 years require more energy and protein, adolescent girls of that same age bracket require more iron.

Also, statistics show that iron deficiency is also one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in children.  Over 40% of children under 5 years in the world are anaemic. The implications of this is terrible for the future.

In our climes, malaria, parasitic infections, infectious diseases, and other nutritional deficiencies like Vitamin A, Vitamin B12 and folate also increases the risk of anaemia.

So, iron needs for everyone differ.

Here is a table showing how much Iron you need:

Life stage (Age group)Iron (mg/d)
Infants 7-12 months11
Children 1-3 years7
Children 4-8 years10
Boys 9 -13 years8
Boys 14 -18 years11
Boys/Men 19 – 70 years8
Men above 70 years8
Girls 9 -13 years8
Girls 14 -18 years15
Women 19 – 50 years18
Women 51 -70 years8
Women above 70 years8
Pregnant women (including pregnant adolescents 14 -18 years)27
Breastfeeding women 14 – 18 years10
Breastfeeding women 19 -50 years9
Reference: IOM 2005. Dietary Reference Intakes. National Academy of Science

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