Recipes High in Iron and Vitamin C – Who is at Risk of Iron Deficiency? There are at least seven (7) groups of people at risk for Iron Deficiency anemia.

I previously talked about the importance of protein as well as the importance of iron in your child's diet. Today, I will discuss how to increase the ability of your body to absorb and use iron in the foods you eat. First, let's review the groups of people at risk for iron deficiency.

7 Groups of People at Risk for Iron Deficiency

Pre-Term Infants

Premature babies are at risk for iron deficiency. This is because the unborn infant stores the largest amount of iron in the last trimester of gestation. Thus, babies born prior to the end of the 9th month have less iron available to use after birth.

Unfortunately, premature babies are also at risk for iron overload. So, it is important to talk to a doctor before giving an iron supplement to a preterm baby.

Young Children

Young children are growing quickly, and their iron needs are increased. Often their intake is inadequate as well. This puts them at risk for iron deficiency. Click Here for a list of Foods That Are High in Iron.

Cow's Milk Should be Treated as a Food

Toddlers are especially at risk of iron deficiency if kept on the bottle longer than 12 months. This is because babies are usually given cow's milk starting at 1 year of age. Cow's milk has no iron and is high in calories. Whole milk, which is recommend until 2 years of age, has 150 calories in one cup. If formula is replaced by cow's milk and is put in the bottle, the young child will usually consume too much milk. This will fill him or her up.

The toddler will then not want to eat other foods, including foods high in iron.

To make matters worse, an excess of cow's milk will interfere with the absorption of iron that is eaten. Thus, it is important to wean your baby off the bottle by 12 months old.

Teenage Girls

Teen girls often limit their diet to stay thin. In addition, the start of menstruation increases the amount of iron lost and the amount of iron that is needed in the diet. Ensuring plenty of iron rich foods will help to reduce risk of anemia and the complications associated with anemia.

Pregnant Women

Iron needs increase during pregnancy because mom is eating for two! Doctors will usually recommend a Multivitamin with Iron and Folate to ensure proper nutrition.

Congestive Heart Failure Patients

The reasons why are unclear. However, it is true that when heart failure is present, the heart is not pumping blood as efficiently. Also, inflammation is present. Sufficient nutrient intake is essential during this process. Thus, the person with heart failure will most likely be taking supplements as ordered by their doctor or dietitian.

Persons with Digestive Diseases Including Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease

A healthy digestive system is essential for adequate nutrient absorption. With Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease, the ability to absorb nutrients is decreased. Also, the amount of nutrients lost is increased. People with these diseases are usually supplemented with iron and other important nutrients to help improve nutritional status.


When a person is on a vegetarian diet, careful planning is required to ensure enough iron is taken in. It is important to remember that eggs, beans, grains, spinach, nuts and seeds are non-heme sources of iron. Non-heme iron is less readily absorbed by the body than heme sources of iron. Also, most non-heme sources of iron are high in phytic acid. Phytic acid inhibits absorption of iron. Thus, vegetarians need to consume higher amounts of iron to compensate for decreased absorption of non-heme iron as well as presence of phytic acid.

Combining Vitamin C Rich Foods with Vegetarian Iron Sources Will Increase the Amount of Iron that is Absorbed.

For example, when serving bean burritos, add homemade salsa to increase iron absorption.


Read my “Importance of Iron” e-book for free through Kindle Unlimited! (90-day free trial) or purchase it for only $4.99? Click here for more information.

High-protein macaroni and cheese

Garlic pinto beans

Chili Con Carne

Foods That Increase Iron Absorption
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Homemade Salsa

This homemade salsa is made with fresh tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro, and is rich in Vitamin C. Combining this recipe with bean burritos (or other meat burritos or tacos) will increase the iron in the foods served with (beans, tortillas, chicken).
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword easy, healthy
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 8kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 1 cup Roma Tomatoes about 2 large, diced
  • 1/4 cup Onions diced
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 whole Jalapeno or Anaheim Jalapeno (Medium Heat); Anaheim (Mild Heat)
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt To taste


  • Chop all vegetables to desired size (remove seeds from pepper)
     2) Add lemon juice and salt
     3) Mix all ingredients together
    4) Chill 2 hours and Serve
    Foods That Increase Iron Absorption


Serving: 1Tbsp | Calories: 8kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 253IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg

Here is the chicken and tomatoes recipe my husband made to serve with the homemade pinto beans.

This recipe is a High in Iron and Vitamin C (and protein).

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Chicken and Tomatoes

Servings 4 servings
Calories 233kcal
Author Deborah Hanyon, MPH, RDN, ACE-CHC


  • 1 pound Skinless cooked chicken, chopped use leftover rotisserie chicken or other cooked chicken; white or dark meat will work
  • 2 Whole Roma Tomatoes chopped
  • 1/4 whole Green Bell Pepper chopped, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup Onion chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt optional
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil


  • Add oil to pan and heat
     2) Saute onion, garlic, bell pepper and tomato until vegetables are tender, 10 minutes or so
     3) Add 1/4 cup water and chicken
     4) Mix and heat through
     5) Serve on corn or flour tortillas with cheese, lettuce, fresh salsa or other favorite toppings.


Serving: 0g | Calories: 233kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 0mg | Potassium: 0mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 0g | Vitamin A: 0IU | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 0mg | Iron: 0mg

Nathan won't eat tomatoes in most things. However, he likes this recipe if we serve it on a tortilla with cheese. It makes me so happy to know that I figured out another way to sneak in some healthy vegetables. This increases the number of vegetables he is eating. Plus, it adds variety to his limited diet.


The Importance of Iron E-book

Other Articles by Homeschooling Dietitian Mom:

What Interferes with Iron Absorption?

5 Reasons Why You Need Folate

Lactose Intolerance or Protein Allergy?

Other References

Effects of Vitamin C on Iron Absorption

Does Vitamin C Increase Iron Absorption?

Iron Therapy for Pre-Term Infants

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