25 High Iron Cereals: A Dietitian’s Picks

This article has been updated by Michelle Saari MS, RD, on June 11, 2024.

High iron cereals can help you get your daily dose of iron in and satisfy a sweet tooth! Does it get any better than that? They are a quick, inexpensive, and easy way to help you meet your daily iron needs.

Women in particular tend to have iron deficiency health conditions such as anemia, leading to low energy, fatigue and weakness.

Iron is an essential mineral in the body that can help improve energy levels, making DNA, oxygen transport, reducing fatigue, cognitive function, immune health and more!

As a Registered Dietitian I want to make sure that you choose the right high iron cereal for you. So I put together a list of the top 25 high iron cereals to help you find the right one.

cereal boxes on a grocery store shelf.

What is Iron?

Iron is an important mineral for the body, needed for producing hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

Adequate iron levels are necessary for maintaining energy levels, cognitive function, and a healthy immune system. A deficiency in iron can lead to anemia, causing fatigue, weakness, and other health issues.

Heme vs Non-Heme Iron

There are two types of dietary iron: heme and non-heme iron.

Heme iron, found in animal products like meat, poultry, and fish, is more easily absorbed by the body. Non-heme iron, found in plant-based foods like cereals, beans, and leafy greens, is not as readily absorbed.

High iron cereals undergo a process called iron fortification, and are fortified with non-heme iron to help meet daily iron requirements, especially for individuals who do not consume enough heme iron from animal sources.

These cereals can be an important dietary source of iron, particularly for those who struggle to meet their daily iron needs.

What is Iron Fortification?

Iron fortification means that iron is added into various cereals in order to prevent iron deficiency in people. There was a time where the medical community was noticing high levels of iron deficiency in the population.

The food industry was the answer to increase iron in people who needed it. It started in the 1940s in the United States and Europe to solve the growing issue. They were trying to eliminate the growing number of anemia cases.

Anemia is the result of a lack of iron in the blood. It can leave you feeling extremely tired, weak, pale, dizzy, and lightheaded among other unpleasant symptoms.

Fortified cereal may not completely solve the problem of low iron, so I recommend not 100% relying on cereal to get your iron daily. But it can be an addition to a diet rich in other iron sources.

How Much Iron Do We Need Daily?

The daily recommendations will vary based on age, gender, and health conditions. But the general recommendations for healthy individuals are:

AgeMaleFemale
Birth to 6 Months0.27 mg0.27 mg
7-12 Months11 mg11 mg
1-3 Years7 mg7 mg
4-8 Years10 mg10 mg
9-13 Years8 mg8 mg
14-18 Years11 mg15 mg
19-50 Years8 mg18 mg
51+ Years8 mg8 mg
Iron Recommendations by Age

Picking a High Iron Cereal

Choosing the right high iron cereal involves carefully examining the nutrition facts label. The four main things to focus on are iron, fiber, sugar, and protein content.

When it comes to sugar, it’s best to minimize added sugars in your diet. Look for cereals with less than 5-10% of the daily value for added sugars. The lower the added sugar content, the better.

For a cereal to be considered high in iron, it needs to contain at least 4 milligrams of iron per serving, or 20% or more of the daily recommended value. Check the nutrition label for a minimum of 4 milligrams of iron per serving to ensure you’re getting a high iron cereal.

Fiber is another important nutrient to consider. It helps you feel full longer, supports digestive health, and can reduce cholesterol levels. Aim for cereals that provide at least 20% of your daily fiber recommendation.

For a list of high fiber cereals, you can refer to resources like the Top 25 High Fiber Cereals List or the 15 Best High Fiber Drinks and Printable High Fiber Foods List.

Including protein in your cereal can make it a more balanced meal. Look for cereals with at least 10 grams of protein per serving. If you want the cereal to serve as a complete meal, aim for closer to 20 grams of protein.

Reading the Nutrition Label

Choosing a high iron cereal starts with understanding the nutrition label. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

Iron Content: Look for cereals that provide at least 20% of the Daily Value (DV) for iron per serving, which equates to about 4 milligrams. This ensures the cereal meets the criteria for being high in iron, helping you meet your daily iron needs​​.

Fiber: High fiber content is crucial for digestive health and feeling full longer. Aim for cereals with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar levels and support heart health by lowering cholesterol​​.

Protein: To ensure your cereal contributes to a balanced meal, choose options with at least 5 grams of protein per serving. Protein helps maintain muscle mass and keeps you feeling full.

Sugar: Opt for cereals with low added sugars, ideally less than 5 grams per serving. High sugar content can counteract the health benefits and cause blood sugar spikes. Keeping added sugars low supports a balanced diet and reduces the risk of chronic diseases​.

Ingredients List: Check that whole grains, such as whole wheat, oats, or bran, are listed as the first ingredient. This indicates higher nutritional value and fiber content. Most iron fortified cereals will list iron or ferrous sulfate within the first 5 ingredients.

By focusing on these key nutritional aspects on the label, you can select a cereal that not only boosts your iron intake but also promotes overall health. 

Kellog's Corn Flakes Nutrition Facts Panel, high in iron cereal.

25 High Iron Cereals

Here is a list of the top 25 high iron cereals for 2024. The data for these cereals was sourced directly from the cereal manufacturers’ websites and was accurate at the time of writing.

To qualify as a high iron cereal, each must contain at least 4 milligrams of iron per serving, providing at least 20% of the daily recommended amount. I ensured that every cereal on this list meets this minimum requirement, with most offering even higher iron content.

If you’re looking to increase your iron intake, this list is a great resource. For more detailed information, you can click on each cereal name to view the official nutrition facts panel.

  1. Original 2 Minute Cream of Wheat Cereal: 6 Tbsp (66 grams), 18.6 milligrams (mg) of iron (100% DV)
  2. Multigrain Cheerios: 1 1/3 Cup (39 grams), 18 mg (100% DV)
  3. Vanilla Spice Cheerios: 1 1/3 Cup (39 grams), 18 mg (100% DV)
  4. Quaker Oatmeal Squares Brown Sugar: 1 Cup (56 grams), 16.5 mg (90% DV)
  5. Honey Bunches of Oats: 1 Cup (42 grams), 16.2 mg (90% DV)
  6. Cheerios Oat Crunch: 1 Cup (54 grams), 16.2 mg (90% DV)
  7. Original Cheerios: 1 1/2 Cup (39 grams), 12.6 mg (70% DV)
  8. Post Grape Nut Flakes: 1 Cup (43 grams), 12.6 mg (70% DV)
  9. Weetabix: 6 Biscuits (100 grams), 12 mg (60% DV)
  10. Corn Flakes: 1 1/2 Cup (42 grams), 12 mg (60% DV)
  11. Bran Buds Cereal: 1 Cup (90 grams), 11.8 mg (60% DV)
  12. Quaker Oatmeal Cinnamon Squares: 1 Cup (42 grams), 11.2 mg (60% DV)
  13. Rice Krispies: 1 1/2 Cup (40 grams), 11.2 mg (60% DV)
  14. Life Cinnamon Cereal: 1 Cup (42 grams), 11.2 mg (60% DV)
  15. Special K OriginalL 1 1/4 Cup (39 grams), 10.9 mg (60% DV)
  16. Special K Red Berries: 1 Cup (39 grams), 10.8 mg (60% DV)
  17. Special K Vanilla Almond: 1 Cup (39 grams), 10.8 mg (60% DV)
  18. Cranberry Almond Crunch: 1 Cup (39 grams), 8.5 mg (47% DV)
  19. Raisin Bran: 1 Cup (55 grams), 7.5 mg (42% DV)
  20. Vector Maple Crunch High Protein: 1 Cup (44 grams), 6.0 mg (33% DV)
  21. Vector Apple Cinnamon: 1 Cup (44 grams), 6.0 mg (28% DV)
  22. Vector Meal Replacement Cereal: 1 1/4 Cup (55 grams), 5.0 mg (28% DV)
  23. Apple Jack’s: 1 Cup (39 grams), 5.0 mg (28% DV)
  24. Bran Flakes Cereal: 1 Cup (34 grams), 4.5 mg (25% DV)
  25. Crispix: 1 Cup (30 grams), 4.0 mg (20% DV)

My Top 6 High Iron Cereal Choices

As a Registered Dietitian these are my top choices which high in iron cereal to pick!

top 6 high in iron cereals graphic that includes the top 6 high in iron cereals.

#1 Cream of Wheat

This high iron cereal is on top of the list for a good reason, it has 18.6 milligrams of iron per serving!

The perfect thing about cream of wheat is you can add so much to make it a full complete meal! Try adding in:

  • Peanut butter for extra protein
  • Chopped strawberries and pineapple for extra fiber and vitamin C
  • Crushed walnuts for more protein and omega-3 fatty acids

All of these components will help increase iron absorption and provide additional nutrients.

#2 Multigrain Cheerios

Offering 18 milligrams of iron per serving makes this cereal is the ideal snack choice.

Multigrain Cheerios offers the slightest hint of sweetness in comparison to plain Cheerios. So if you’re looking for just a little bit more flavour, then this is the type to try!

I love chopping up some bananas, 2% milk, and chopped up raspberries. It is a delicious mid afternoon snack if you need one.

#3 Vanilla Spice Cheerios

Another cereal that provides 18 milligrams of iron per serving! Your whole days serving in 1 bowl of cereal.

If you haven’t tried this new version of Cheerios then I highly recommend giving it a try! Surprisingly it is relatively low in added sugar with only 6 grams per serving.

If you want to reduce the amount of sugar, you can mix half Classic Cheerios with this version. Eating this alone with milk is a good enough snack for me!

#4 Oatmeal Squares

With 16.5 milligrams of iron per serving it offers almost your daily total, and it is incredibly filling. So if Cheerios aren’t quite your favourite, than I’d give this one a try.

It is very crunchy which makes it all the more satisfying as a breakfast or as a snack to chew on throughout the day.

#5 Honey Bunches of Oats

At 16.2 milligrams of iron per serving, Honey Bunches of Oats offers a delicious sweet flavour. It has a mixture of crunchy granola and flakey cereal. It gives a combination of crunch and sweetness in each bite.

I personally love this one, but if you want to look at other versions of honey bunches of oats they have a wide variety of options now!

#6 Cheerios Oat Crunch

If you want some healthy smoothie recipes, try these ones!

If I could pick my personal favourite out of all of these, THIS would be it!

At 16.2 milligrams of iron per serving, I have never loved the flavour of a cereal more than this one. While it doesn’t offer 100% of your daily iron recommendations, it is easily the best tasting one.

Give this cereal a try and I am sure you will love it too!

Increasing the Iron in Your Cereal

Many people ask how to boost the iron content in their cereal, especially since there’s a rumor that calcium in milk reduces iron absorption. Fortunately, research shows that milk has a neutral effect on iron absorption in cereal, so there’s no need to worry about that.

The benefits of having a cup of milk with your cereal far outweigh the minimal impact calcium may have on iron absorption. Milk provides essential nutrients, such as:

  • Calories: 122
  • Protein: 8 grams
  • Vitamin A: 15% DV
  • Calcium: 23% DV
  • Vitamin D: 25% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 54% DV
  • Riboflavin: 35% DV
  • Phosphorus: 18% DV
  • Selenium: 11% DV
  • Zinc: 11% DV

All these nutrients are crucial for overall health, making milk an excellent pairing with iron-rich cereal.

To further enhance iron absorption, pair your cereal with a source of vitamin C.

Vitamin C Rich Sources

  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, kiwi)
  • Strawberries
  • Papaya
  • Mangos
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Lychee
  • Barbados Cherries

Slice any of these fruits and mix them into your cereal. This not only adds vitamin C but also provides fiber, helping you feel full longer and balance your blood sugars.

Alternatively, turn your iron-rich cereal into a smoothie bowl. Combine yogurt, sprinkle your cereal on top, and add sliced fruits. You’ll have a nutrient-dense, iron-rich meal to start your day!

Final Thoughts

Getting your daily iron needs is essential for overall health and high iron cereals are a fantastic way to meet your needs. This can look like having some in the morning or as a snack throughout the day.

But make sure that you’re adding vitamin C rich foods to up the amount of iron your body absorbs!

You don’t only need to get iron from your cereal though, having a combination of iron rich foods throughout the day will be beneficial for your health too!

Have questions about high iron cereals? Drop them in the comments below and I’ll answer them!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should Seniors Have More Iron?

Anyone over the age of 51 doesn’t necessarily need more iron, but they may not absorb as efficiently as someone younger. The body through various mechanisms isn’t as good at absorption the nutrients that you eat.

So if you’re over the age of 51, I would get your iron levels checked and speak with your Doctor about how much you should be aiming to take in daily.

Having some high in iron cereals in the pantry may help you have more iron daily!

Does Iron in Cereal Help with Anemia?

Yes, having a bowl of cereal that is fortified with iron can be a great addition to your diet to help with anemia. However, cereal should not be solely relied upon to cure anemia.

How Can I Increase My Iron Level Quickly?

I don’t recommend trying to increase your iron level quickly as this can lead to gastrointestinal distress. Try to introduce more iron rich foods, high in iron cereals, and then have your iron levels checked by a Doctor.

A Doctor can let you know if you need to introduce an iron supplement to increase iron levels.

If you want more nutrition recommendations from a Registered Dietitian that can help you improve and manage your health, click here.

Michelle saari dietitian
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Michelle Saari is a Registered Dietitian based in Canada. She has a Master's Degree in Human Nutritional Sciences and is a passionate advocate for spreading easy to understand, reliable, and trustworthy nutrition information. She is currently a full time online entrepreneur with two nutrition focused websites.

5 thoughts on “25 High Iron Cereals: A Dietitian’s Picks”

  1. Hi Michelle and/or editor, I notice a discrepancy regarding the iron content in Vanilla Spice Cheerios. According to your article, a 1 1/3 cups serving can provide 100% of the recommended daily iron intake; however, when I look at the website for Vanilla Spice Cheerios (https://www.cheerios.ca/products/vanilla-spice-cheerios/), it states that 1 cup provides only 4 grams of iron. I don’t know which is right, but readers should be aware of the discrepancy.

  2. I was told that you should not take iron or eat iron rich foods with any milk products since they both compete for the same receptors. How will you get the iron you need with iron rich cereals if you have it with milk?

    1. Hi Aashi,

      That’s a great question, thanks for asking!

      While milk can decrease the absorption of iron in theory, studies have actually found that it doesn’t decrease the absorption. If you want to increase your chance of increasing absorption then I recommend pairing some source of Vitamin C with it. This could be some type of citrus fruit and orange juice. Vitamin C rich foods/drinks increase the absorption of Iron, so pairing them together helps!

      I hope that answers your question.

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