Harvard Men's Health Watch

Iron and your health

Fatigue is usually not related to a shortage of iron. In adults, iron deficiency is most common in women of childbearing age. Anemia caused by low iron does become more common with aging, affecting 10% or more of people 65 and older. This is sometimes caused by internal bleeding related to cancer or gastrointestinal disease. Most people can meet their daily iron needs from food. Red meat, poultry, eggs, and fish supply the most iron per serving. Plant foods also supply iron, but in a form that is harder for the body to absorb. People who eat few or no animal foods need to compensate by eating a larger amount of iron-rich plant foods, such as leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, and mushrooms. Foods fortified artificially with iron also help Americans to meet their iron needs.
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