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Iron is involved in various functions in the body. An important function is its role in the transport of oxygen in the blood as it is part of haemoglobin.

Iron also helps the immune system function properly and is part of many enzymes found in the body. Low levels of iron can make you feel fatigued or tired and give you lowered immunity.

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There are two types of iron – haem and non-haem iron.

Haem

Where it is found: Animal foods such as beef, lamb, chicken, fish and offal.

Absorption: Well absorbed by the body. Red meat is the best source of iron.

Non–haem

Where it is found: Mainly in plant foods such as beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, wholegrain cereals and iron fortified breakfast cereals, some dried fruit and nuts, eggs.

Absorption: Not as well absorbed as haem iron. To boost absorption include foods containing vitamin C and animal protein with foods containing non-haem iron.

Last updated: 13 December 2019 | Last reviewed: 17 February 2014

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