Trace Elements // Iron

Iron Intake Recommendations

In 1993, the European Scientific Committee for Food set population reference intakes (PRI) for iron in milligrams (mg) per day (22):

Age    Males: mg/day Females: mg/day
 6–12 months 6 6
 1–3 years 4 4
 4–6 years 4 4
 7–10 years 6 6
 11–14 years 10 18
 15–17 years 13 17
 18 years and older 9 15 - 20* 
 Pregnant - 30**
 Breast-feeding - 16

* To compensate for menstrual iron losses in women of reproductive age.

** To compensate for increased iron need in pregnancy.

The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board has established a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron, based on the prevention of iron deficiency and maintenance of adequate iron stores in individuals eating a mixed diet (11):

 Life Stage   Age  Males: mg/day Females: mg/day 
 Infants 0–6 months 0.27 (AI) 0.27 (AI)
 Infants  7–12 months 11 11
 Children   1–3 years 7 7
 Children  4–8 years 10 10
 Children 9–13 years 8 8
 Adolescents 14–18 years 11 15
 Adults 1 9-50 years 8 18
 Adults 51 years and older 8 8
 Pregnancy all ages - 27
 Breast-feeding 18 years and younger - 10
 Breast-feeding 19 years and older - 9

As the estimated bioavailability of iron from a vegetarian diet is only 10%, while it is 18% from a mixed diet, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iron from a completely vegetarian diet should be adjusted as follows: 14 mg/day for adult men and postmenopausal women, 33 mg/day for premenopausal women, and 26 mg/day for adolescent girls (11).

For a detailed overview of recommended daily intakes (PRIs/RDAs) of vitamins and minerals for adults derived from different countries and organizations see PDF.