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30 Best Iron Fortified Cereals For A Nutritious Breakfast

Best Iron Fortified Cereals

Starting your day with fortified breakfast cereal is a healthy and effective way to ensure you’re getting the vital nutrients your body needs. Iron, in particular, plays a key role in maintaining our energy levels and supporting immune function.

In this article, we try to provide you with 30 of the best iron-fortified cereals available in the market. This guide helps you a lot to make an informed choice for a nutritious start to your day.

In a huge list of cereals, from whole-grain to gluten-free options, there’s certainly a fortified cereal to suit every taste and dietary requirement. Let’s explore iron-enriched cereals and find the perfect bowl to start your day.

Fortified iron refers to the process where iron is added to food during processing to boost its nutritional content. It is a global method used to treat iron deficiency.

Food fortification is widely considered the most effective and cost-efficient approach. However, there are two main challenges linked with conventional fortification. It’s also identified in the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and Food and Agricultural Organisation (2006) {1}.

Fortifying food is a well-established, safe, and cost-effective strategy to enhance diets and prevent micronutrient deficiencies. It has been ranked as one of the most cost-effective development priorities by the Copenhagen Consensus in 2008 and 2012 [2].

Fortified foods, like breakfast cereals, are an easy way to boost iron intake and combat nutrient deficiency.

Why Iron is essential for a healthy breakfast?

Iron is a mineral that can be found in foods, fortified products, and supplements. It is an essential component of our bodies, as it’s a key component of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from our lungs to the tissues in the rest of our body.

Deficiency in iron can lead to anemia, which can make you feel tired, weak, and more prone to getting sick. That’s why adding iron-rich foods, like fortified cereals, into your breakfast is a great way to ensure you’re meeting your daily iron needs.

There are 2 types of dietary iron – heme and non-heme. Heme iron, found in animal sources, is more readily absorbed by our bodies. Non-heme iron, found in plant sources and fortified foods,  is less easily absorbed. But, consuming non-heme iron with Vitamin C can improve absorption.

So all those benefits of Iron make it an essential part of a healthy breakfast, especially for those with special dietary requirements like vegans and vegetarians.

How much Iron do we need daily?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron varies depending on age, sex, and life stage. Here is the table chart of Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Iron by the National Institutes of Health:

AgeMaleFemalePregnancy
Birth to 6 months0.27 mg*0.27 mg*
7–12 months11 mg11 mg
1–3 years7 mg 7 mg
4–8 years10 mg10 mg
9–13 years8 mg 8 mg
14–18 years11 mg 15 mg 27 mg
19–50 years8 mg 18 mg 27 mg
51+ years8 mg 8 mg

Iron needs are highest in teenagers, with boys needing 11 mg and girls requiring 15 mg due to menstruation. However, individual iron requirements may vary, particularly in situations like iron deficiency anemia, so it’s always important to consult a doctor for personalized advice.

How to check out the nutrition facts of a high-iron cereal?

nutrition facts of a high-iron cereal

When selecting a high-iron cereal, it’s important to check the Nutrition Facts label. This label is typically found on the side of the cereal box and provides a detailed breakdown of the nutritional content per serving.

To check for the iron content, look under the ‘Minerals’ or ‘Vitamins and Minerals’ section of the label. The iron content is usually listed in milligrams (mg) and as a percentage of the Daily Value (%DV).

Keep in mind that 100% DV is based on a 2,000-calorie diet for adults and kids aged 4 and up, and it is the recommended daily intake of iron, which is 18 mg for most adults.

In general, cereals containing 25% or more of the Daily Value of iron per serving are considered high in iron. However, remember that the term ‘fortified’ on the box means that the cereal has added iron, which may not be as easily absorbed as the iron naturally found in foods.

List of 30 Best Iron Fortified Cereals

Here we shortlist 30 of the best iron-fortified cereals available in the market. This diverse list includes a variety of options for different dietary needs, like gluten-free and vegan-friendly choices.

High Fortified Cereals Serving SizeAmount of Iron (mg)Recommended Intake
General Mills Total Raisin Bran1 cup18mg100%
Kellogg's All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes3/4 cup13.5mg75%
General Mills Wheaties1 cup12mg67%
Rice Krispies1 1/2 cups11.2mg60%
Corn Flakes1 1/2 cups12mg60%
Vanilla Spice Cheerios1 1/3 18mg100%
Post Grape Nuts1/2 cup11mg61%
Cheerios1 cup12.6mg25%
Kellogg's Special K Protein Plus3/4 cup11mg61%
Quaker Oatmeal Squares1 cup16.5mg91%
Kellogg's Product 191 cup9mg50%
Post Shredded Wheat1 cup7mg39%
Quaker Instant Oatmeal1 packet7.4mg41%
Bran Buds1 cup12.5mg69%
All Bran Original Cereal1 cup9.5mg53%
Life1 cup13.2mg70%
General Mills Lucky Charms1 cup6.3mg35%
Kashi GOLEAN Original1 cup5.9mg33%
General Mills Trix1 cup5mg28%
Cream of Wheat28 grams8mg45%
Quisp1 1/4 cup8.2mg45%
Special K1 cup4.5mg25%
Special K Vanilla Almond1 cup6mg33%
Post Honeycomb1 cup8mg44%
General Mills Reese's Puffs1 cup7mg39%
Wheetabix3 biscuits7mg39%
Fruity Pebbles1 cup5.5mg31%
Kashi Original1 cup2.5mg14%
Post Cocoa Pebbles1 cup5mg28%

These cereals not only provide a good amount of iron but also offer other essential nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. By adding these into your breakfast routine can help you meet your daily nutrient needs.

Remember, cereal is a supplement, not a substitute for a diet high in iron-rich foods. There is something called bioavailability. This means how much of the mineral, iron in this case, that our body actually absorbs.

Quaker Oatmeal Squares cereal may have 16.5 mg of iron and 91% of our recommended daily intake, but it doesn’t mean that we are going to absorb all 16.5 mg.

When building your iron sources in your diet, remember that you may only absorb half of what is actually present in a food source. Animal sources have higher bioavailability, which makes them the recommended primary source of daily iron intake.

My Top 3 High Iron Fortified Cereal Choices

  1. General Mills Total Raisin Bran: This cereal is rich in iron, offering 100% of the recommended daily intake in a single one-cup serving. Not only does it provide a substantial iron boost, but it is also packed with dietary fiber, an essential nutrient for digestion and heart health.
  2. Kellogg’s All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes: These tasty flakes deliver 75% of the daily recommended iron intake in just a three-quarter cup serving. They’re also a great source of dietary fiber, essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system.
  3. Quaker Oatmeal Squares: These squares provide 91% of the daily recommended intake of iron in a one-cup serving. Moreover, oats are known for their heart-healthy benefits; they contain beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that can help reduce cholesterol levels. It is also a great source of complex carbohydrates, offering long-lasting energy throughout the day.

Remember, iron absorption can be improved by pairing these cereals with foods high in vitamin C. So, consider topping your cereal with strawberries, oranges, or kiwi. On the other hand, avoid tea, coffee, and dairy products while having cereal as they can reduce iron absorption.

What are the best Iron Fortified cereals for Adults?

When it comes to selecting the best iron-fortified cereals for adults, there are some key factors to consider.

First, it’s important to select a cereal that is not only high in iron but also low in added sugars. Excessive intake of added sugar can cause weight gain, tooth damage, and increased risk of heart disease.

Here are 3 highly recommended iron-fortified cereals for adults:

  1. General Mills Wheaties: Known as the “Breakfast of Champions”, Wheaties is fortified with 100% of the daily recommended intake of iron. It is also made from whole-grain wheat, which provides additional health benefits like helping in digestion and promoting heart health.
  2. Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs: This cereal is made from 7 different types of whole grains, providing a rich source of fiber and complex carbohydrates. It is fortified with 50% of the daily recommended intake of iron. Plus, it contains no added sugar, making it a healthy choice for adults.
  3. Post Bran Flakes: Post Bran Flakes is another excellent choice, fortified with 90% of the daily recommended intake of iron. It is made from whole-grain wheat and wheat bran, offering a high amount of dietary fiber.

Remember, the body absorbs heme iron, found in animal sources, more efficiently than non-heme iron, found in plant sources and fortified foods. Consuming vitamin C with non-heme iron can boost absorption.

So, enjoy your cereal with a glass of orange juice or some fresh fruits. Plus, it’s important to maintain a well-balanced diet rich in various nutrients, not just iron.

What to look for in an Iron-Fortified Cereal?

When looking for an iron-fortified cereal, there are a few key factors that you must keep in mind.

Firstly, check the nutritional label for the iron content per serving and ensure it provides you with a significant part of the recommended daily intake.

However, not all iron is created equal. There are two types: heme iron, derived from animal sources, and non-heme iron, found in plants and iron-fortified foods. Non-heme iron, which is what you’ll find in cereals, is not as easily absorbed by the body.

Secondly, the bioavailability of iron. Look for cereals that contain absorption-enhancing nutrients like Vitamin C or are consumed with such foods.

On the flip side, avoid cereals that have calcium or consume these cereals separately from dairy products, as calcium can inhibit iron absorption.

Lastly, it’s crucial to factor in the overall nutritional profile. Look for cereals that are not just high in iron but also offer a good balance of other essential nutrients like fiber and protein, with low amounts of added sugars and unhealthy fats like whole milk, cream, and butter, stick margarine.

Also Read: Are Frosted Flakes Good For Weight Loss?

What's the best way to enjoy a High-Iron-Fortified Cereal?

To get the most out of high-iron fortified cereals, here are a few simple tips:

  • Pair with Vitamin C-rich Foods: Boost your meal by adding Vitamin C-rich foods to enhance iron absorption. Try adding sliced strawberries or bananas to your breakfast bowl or enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice on the side.
  • Prefer Whole Grain Varieties: Whole grain cereals offer a lot of additional nutrients, such as dietary fiber, B vitamins, and important minerals like magnesium and selenium. They also help to maintain a feeling of fullness, preventing overeating.
  • Beware of Sugar Content: While cereals can be a good source of iron, they can also be high in added sugars. Excess intake of sugars can cause weight gain, tooth decay, and increased risk of heart disease. Choose cereals that are low in added sugars, and sweeten naturally with fruits if necessary.
  • Consider the Timing of Your Dairy Intake: Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese can inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron. If your breakfast includes these foods, try to space them out from your cereal intake.

Here’s what you can pair with your iron-fortified cereal:

  • Add sliced strawberries to your cereal with milk.
  • Enjoy some sliced oranges and grapefruit alongside your cereal.
  • Create a yummy parfait by layering crushed cereal and blended mixed berries.
  • Blend a smoothie and include some of the high-iron cereal.

Cereals are a convenient way to boost your iron intake, especially for vegetarians and vegans. But remember, they shouldn’t be your sole source of iron. A well-balanced diet with a lot of nutrients is essential for good health.

What other food sources are Iron-Fortified?

There are a lot of other food sources, aside from cereals, that are fortified with iron. Here are some commonly consumed food items that are iron-fortified:

  • Fortified Pasta: A portion of approximately 100 grams contains approximately 2.1mg of iron, which accounts for approximately 12% of the daily recommended intake for adult men and approximately 9% for women.
  • Fortified Rice: A serving size of approximately 1 cup (about 200 grams) provides approximately 1.9mg of iron, meeting about 11% of the daily recommended intake for adult men and about 8% for women.
  • Fortified Oatmeal: One cup (about 234 grams) provides around 14mg of iron, which is about 78% of the recommended daily intake for men and about 58% for women.
  • Fortified Bread (Whole Wheat): A single slice (approximately 46 grams) contains approximately 1.2mg of iron, accounting for about 7% of the daily recommended intake for adult men and around 5% for women.
  • Iron-Fortified Infant Formula: A serving size of about 100 grams provides around 1.0mg of iron, which is nearly 6% of the daily recommended intake for infants aged 6-12 months.
  • Seedless Raisins: While they are not typically fortified, seedless raisins are also a good source of non-heme iron, with around 1.3mg per small box (about 43g). That’s about 7% of the daily recommended intake for adult men and 5% for women.
  • Cashews: Cashews are a great source of non-heme iron, with approximately 1.7mg per ounce (about 28 grams), serving about 9% of the daily recommended intake for adult men and about 6% for women.
  • Chickpeas: A single serving of one cup (approximately 164g) provides approximately 4.74 mg of iron, accounting for roughly 26% of the recommended daily intake for adult men and about 18% for women.
  • Spinach: Spinach is full of important nutrients, especially iron. Eating just one cup (about 30g) of spinach gives you around 0.8mg of iron, which is approx. 4% of the daily recommended intake for men and around 3% for women.
  • Beef Liver: Beef liver is one of the best sources of heme iron, which provides around 5mg per three-ounce serving (about 85 grams), which is nearly 28% of the daily recommended intake for adult men and about 20% for women.

Conclusion

In conclusion, iron-fortified foods, including cereals, play a key role in meeting our daily iron requirements, especially for those who follow vegan diets. However, it’s important to understand the bioavailability of iron and the other factors that can influence its absorption. Combining these foods with Vitamin C-rich options can boost iron intake while watching sugar and dairy intake helps maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Including iron-rich foods in your diet, both heme and non-heme, is important for good nutritional benefits.

FAQ

Is Iron in Cereal Bad for You?

No, iron in cereal is not bad for you. On the contrary, it’s our body needs to function properly. It’s important for producing hemoglobin which is a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, consuming iron-fortified cereals is a convenient way to meet our daily iron requirements.

Should Seniors Have More Iron?

Seniors should be mindful of their iron intake. While it is important in maintaining energy levels and supporting immune function, too much can cause health issues such as constipation and iron overload, which can potentially damage organs. People above the age of 51 do not have an increased requirement for iron. As we get older, our need for iron reduces. Men and postmenopausal women have the same recommended daily intake of iron, which is 8mg.

What Cereal is Best for Anemia?

For people with anemia, iron-fortified cereals can be a valuable addition to their diet. Cereals like Total, Raisin Bran, and Cheerios are rich in iron and can aid in boosting iron levels in the body. However, it’s important to check the nutritional label to ensure that the cereal is fortified with iron and low in added sugars.

Resources

Disclaimer:

The information provided in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Don’t ignore professional medical advice or put off seeking it just because of something you read here. Although we aim to offer precise and current information, we do not guarantee its completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability for any purpose. Using the information in this document is at your own risk. We are not responsible for any losses or damages caused by our content.

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