State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

Why do I need Iron?

Iron is important for making red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body. You need Iron to support growth, to replace Iron that your body uses up, and to have enough energy.

How do I know if I have low Iron in my blood?

The WIC program or your doctor will check your blood to see if your body has enough Iron. Signs of having low iron may be:

  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Feeling grumpy
  • Headaches
  • Problems thinking, focusing, or learning

How can I increase my Iron?

  • Eat Iron rich foods every day
  • Eat foods that have Vitamin C with your meals, this can help your body get the iron from your food
  • Vitamin C foods:
    • oranges
    • kiwis
    • strawberries
    • peppers
    • broccoli
    • cantaloupe
    • cabbage 
    • tomatoes
    • WIC juices
  • Limit drinking tea, coffee, or soda at mealtime these drinks can make it hard to get the iron from your food
  • If you are pregnant take your prenatal vitamin each day
  • Ask your doctor if you/your child needs a vitamin or iron supplement

What foods are high in Iron?


  • Liver
  • Lean beef
  • Turkey and Chicken
  • Tuna fish, canned*
  • Tuna, crab, shrimp, halibut
  • Pork
  • Salmon, canned with bone*

Non-Meat Foods

  • Fortified breakfast cereal*
  • Oatmeal/Cream of Wheat*
  • Soybeans
  • Beans, Peas & Lentils*
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soybean nuts
  • Tofu
  • Spinach*
  • Raisins
  • Pretzels
  • Dried apricots
  • Whole wheat bread*
  • Egg*

Foods with the most iron are at the top of each list.

* WIC Foods

By eating foods that are high in iron and/or taking a supplement to increase your iron most people will see their iron level return to normal within several months.

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call toll free 866-632-9992 (Voice). Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339; or 800-845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

DHS 4444 (R-03-15) Nutrient Sheet - Iron  Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois. 19,500 copies P.O.#15-1502