Foods High in Iron & B12

Updated July 19, 2017

Anemia can develop if there's a deficiency of iron or vitamin B12 in the body. Iron and vitamin B12 support blood flow, proper nerve function and metabolism. Iron and vitamin B12 are essential for vital organ and system functions, and without them, cells will develop deformities. Eating foods that re high in iron and vitamin B12 will provide adequate amounts to support the body's functions.


Iron is essential to the creation of haemoglobin and delivers oxygen through the blood to the organs, muscles and cells. This necessary mineral provides the body with energy that it releases from glucose and fatty acids in the intestines. Women between ages 11 and 50 should get 18 mg of iron each day. Women older than 50 should get 10 mg of iron each day. Men older than 19 should get 8 mg of iron per day.

Iron Foods

Iron is found naturally in many foods such as spinach, dried fruit, liver, red meat, lamb, poultry, tuna, shrimp, broccoli, lima beans, kidney beans and chickpeas. Beef has about 85 mg of iron. Lamb has 83 mg. Dried thyme has 90 mg, parsley 71 mg and dried spearmint 61 mg. Vegetables and fruits that help the body absorb iron include broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit and oranges. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron. Avoid drinking tea and coffee with iron-rich foods. These actually prevent the body from taking in iron.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is common, even though it's easily restored to the body through proper diet of eating foods rich in iron. Iron leaves the body through sweat, blood loss, waste and the shedding of skin cells. If this mineral isn't adequately replaced, a deficiency occurs. Symptoms of an iron deficiency involve fatigue, headaches, a loss of appetite, trouble breathing, pale skin and a weak feeling.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 produces red blood cells and DNA, develops nerve cells and participates in the process of moving carbohydrate and fat through the body. The absence of B12 can cause a defect in DNA and deform cell growth.

B12 Foods

Foods rich in vitamin B12 include beef, seafood, poultry, fortified cereals, shellfish, salmon, cod, lamb, milk, cheese and yoghurt. People should get 0.0024 mg of vitamin B12 daily. Lamb has 0.13 mg of vitamin B12, whitefish has 0.108 mg and fortified cereals have 0.025 mg.

B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are rare because the body is capable of storing B12 for several years. The elderly are more likely to experience a lack of vitamin B12 in their diets. A vegetarian diet that doesn't include animal products can cause a deficiency of vitamin B12. Smoking, oral contraceptives and stomach or intestine surgeries can also lead to a deficiency. Some of the symptoms involve pale skin, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, and poor coordination.

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About the Author

Payton Pritchard is a writer, graphic designer and adjunct instructor. She got her start in journalism in 1996 writing and designing newsletters and writing for newspaper before switching to radio news for eight years. Pritchard has a Bachelor of Arts and an Associate of Applied Science in journalism and graphic design from Truman State University and Sullivan College of Technology and Design, respectively.