Why is Iron Important?
Iron plays a vital role in energy production within our bodies and helps transport oxygen from the lungs throughout the rest of the body. Iron is also a part of many enzymes in the body including those that provide antioxidant protection.1
What is Iron Deficiency?
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world.1,4 Symptoms of low iron levels can include tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, and headaches.1,2 Iron deficiency can also lead to anemia, a condition marked by too few or abnormal red blood cells.2 Impaired cognitive development in children and poor pregnancy outcomes are some of the conditions that have been associated with iron deficiency.1,2 The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans identify iron as a nutrient of public health concern for women who are pregnant.5
Vitamin C and Citric Acid Aid in Iron Absorption
Ensure optimal iron intake by eating foods that are high in iron, such as animal proteins, lentils, potatoes, and green leafy vegetables. The iron from plant-based foods is not as well absorbed in the body as iron from animal proteins. When consuming iron-rich plant foods, it is beneficial to also consume foods with vitamin C or citric acid, such as 100% grapefruit juice or fresh grapefruit, which may help increase absorption of iron into your body.1-3
One half of a fresh grapefruit or 8 ounces of 100% grapefruit juice are excellent sources of vitamin C.* Citrus juices, such as orange and grapefruit juice, are reported to be the largest contributors of vitamin C in the diet.6 Citric acid also occurs naturally in fresh grapefruit and grapefruit juice and contributes to its sweet-tangy taste.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. Consuming fresh grapefruit or 100% grapefruit juice along with iron-rich plant-based foods may help enhance your body’s absorption of iron.
Detailed Nutritional Information
Iron is involved in energy production and oxygen transport as it is part of the electron transport chain, hemoglobin in the blood, and myoglobin in the muscles.1,2 Iron is also part of many enzymes including glutathione peroxidase and catalase1 that behave as antioxidants in the body. Symptoms of low iron status include tiredness, shortness of breath, and headaches, and severe iron deficiency can lead to anemia and complications with pregnancy.1,2 In infants and young children, iron deficiency is associated with impaired cognitive development and behavior, decreased infection resistance, and temperature dysregulation.1 Vitamin C and citric acid and other organic compounds found in citrus may enhance the absorption of plant-based iron.1-3
* Daily Value: Based on a 2000 calorie diet. FDA rounding rules applied when calculating percent DV based upon 2018 rules. Information is not intended for labeling food in packaged form. Nutrient values may vary based on brand or product types.
- McDermid and Lonnerdal. Adv Nutr. 2012;3:532-533.
- Iron, In: Dietary Reference Intakes. Institute of Medicine. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC. 2001.
- Iron. Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Oregon State University.
- Lynch et al. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1980;355:32-44.
- USDA/DHHS. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Chun et al. J Nutr. 2010;140:317-324.