Non-heme iron primarily comes from plant sources and is present in grains, vegetables and fortified foods.
This is the form added to foods enriched or fortified with iron. It’s estimated that the majority of our dietary iron intake comes from the non-heme form, while a smaller percentage comes from heme iron.
In terms of its bioavailability, non-heme iron is absorbed much less efficiently (2-5%) than heme iron, because its absorption is inhibited by a number of factors.
Good sources of non-heme iron include:
- Fortified cereals, rice, wheat and oats
- Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
- Dried fruits like raisins and apricots
- Beans (kidney, lima, Navy)
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains
- Peanut butter
- Brown rice