High in iron cereals can help you get your daily dose of iron in and satisfy a sweet tooth! Does it get any better than that?
Iron is an essential mineral in the body having many functions such as improving energy levels, making DNA, oxygen transport, reducing fatigue, cognitive function, immune health and more!
High in iron cereals that are fortified make it a quick, inexpensive, and easy way to sneak some extra iron into your diet.
With so many cereals in the grocery store, how do you choose the right one? Find out which one a Registered Dietitian would pick!
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:
|Birth to 6 Months
How to Read a High Iron Cereal Food Label?
Iron on a nutrition food label with be under the nutrition facts panel on the side or back of the package.
Here is a sample nutrition facts panel:
The sample nutrition facts panel is for Kellog’s Corn Flakes, a high iron cereal. You can see from the nutrition panel that it offers 12 milligrams (mg) of iron in 1/2 cup of cereal. This will give you 60% of your daily iron intake!
That’s a great amount of iron if for example you are over 51 years old and only need 8 mg of iron.
High in Iron Cereals List
A serving size of cereal varies by the brand, but it is typically between 1/2 cup – 1 cup. You may eat more or less than this amount, so you can just adjust the serving size and iron content based on what makes you feel full!
You can click on the link of each cereal to see more nutrition facts and purchase!
|High Iron Cereal
|Amount of Iron (mg)
|% Recommended Intake
|1 1/2 cups
|1 1/2 cups
|Vanilla Spice Cheerios
|All Bran Cereal Flakes
|All Bran Original Cereal
|Cream of Wheat
|Quaker Oatmeal Squares
|Quaker Oatmeal Cinnamon Squares
|1 1/4 cup
|Special K Vanilla Almond
|Special K Red Berries
|Honey Bunches of Oats
|Honey Bunches of Oats Granola
|Cranberry Almond Crunch
|Tim Hortons Apple Fritter
|Kashi Organic Autumn Wheat
When you look at this list, you can see the amount of iron in each cereal varies quite a bit.
Remember cereal is only to be used in addition to a diet rich in iron sources. There is something called bioavailability. This means how much of the mineral, iron in this circumstance, that we actually absorb.
While Weetabix cereal may have 7 mg of iron and 39% of our recommended daily intake, it doesn’t mean that we are going to absorb all 7 mg. Keep that in mind when you’re building your iron sources in your diet.
You may only absorb half of what is actually in a food source. Bioavailability is higher in animal sources so that should be your main source of iron daily.
My Top 3 High Iron Cereal Choices
As a Registered Dietitian these are my top choices which high in iron cereal to pick!
- Vanilla Spice Cheerios. This cereal is such a sweet flavour and can satisfy a sweet tooth while providing the most amount if iron on the list. Providing 100% of your daily iron intake it’s a great source!
2. Corn Flakes. This is a great cereal that you can add all the berries that you want! You can also use corn flakes to make the coating for homemade chicken fingers, it’s a great choice!
3. Quaker Oatmeal Squares. This one is a delicious personal preference. I could have this as a snack with or without milk. With a high source of fibre and protein, it’s a very filling snack!
What’s the Best Way to Eat a High Iron Cereal?
Iron is best paired with a source of Vitamin C to increase its absorption. There is evidence that calcium and iron don’t help each other with absorption. But research has shown that milk has minimal effect on iron absorption, so don’t worry about it too much.
The benefits of having a cup of milk with your cereal far outweigh the minimal effect calcium will have on your iron absorption.
Here are some of the major nutrients you get from milk:
Calories – 122
Protein – 8 grams
Vitamin A – 15% DV
Calcium – 23% DV
Vitamin D – 25% DV
Vitamin B12 – 54% DV
Riboflavin – 35% DV
Phosphorous – 18% DV
Selenium – 11% DV
Zinc – 11% DV
All of those are essential to your body’s overall health, so pairing it with an iron rich cereal is an excellent option!
Here’s what you can pair your high iron cereal:
- Slice some strawberries on top of your cereal with milk
- Have some sliced oranges and grapefruit on the side with your cereal
- Make a parfait with crushed cereal on top and mixed berries blended in.
- Make a smoothie and throw some of the high iron cereal inside.
Having a smoothie with high iron cereal mixed in may seem like an odd match, but it will give it such a delicious texture I highly recommend trying!
If you want some healthy smoothie recipes, try these ones!
Other Iron Food Sources
High in iron cereals are a great addition to a diet that has other iron sources in it. Here are some great foods that you can incorporate into your daily diet to meet your iron needs.
|Iron Content (mg)
|Daily Needs (%)
|Green Peas, Boiled
|Roasted Chicken, Skin on
|Whole Wheat Bread
If you still are low in iron after adding cereal and iron rich foods to your diet, you do have the option of buying an iron supplement.
But be careful, because not all iron supplements are made the same or will have the same benefits.
Look for iron supplements with ‘Ferrous – Gluconate, Fumarate, or Sulfate’ in the ingredients panel. These have the best absorption rates.
You should also try to take an iron supplement that provides 100% or less of your estimated daily intake recommendation. Too much iron can cause upset stomach, nausea, and discomfort.
Always consult with your Doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.
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 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.