Heme iron, non-heme iron: what are the differences?
Iron is found in foods in two forms, heme iron and non-heme iron:
- Heme iron is present exclusively in animal flesh (meat and derived products, offal, fish and seafood) of which it constitutes, depending on the species and the pieces, 15 to 80% of the iron present.
- Non-heme iron (or metallic iron) is present in most foods, whatever their origin, animal or vegetable.
“The rate of absorption of heme iron is greater than that of non-heme iron. It is also less variable depending on the level of iron stores than that of metallic iron. The rate of absorption of dietary iron therefore depends on the level of iron. the body’s reserves but also the proportion of heme iron in the diet and the presence of food compounds affecting the absorption of metallic iron “, explains ANSES (source 1).
According to ANSES, contributions to theoretically cover our daily iron needs are from :
- 11 mg / d for infants 6 months to 1 year,
- 5 mg / day for children 1 to 2 years old,
- 4mg / day for children from 3 to 6 years old,
- 6 mg / day for children aged 7 to 11,
- 11 mg / d for adolescents 12 to 18 years and non-menstruating adolescentsor whose menstrual discharge is mild to moderate,
- 13 mg / day for adolescent girls with heavy menstrual loss,
- 11 mg / day for men 18 years and older and women with low to moderate menstrual bleeding,
- 16 mg / day for women aged 18 and over with heavy menstrual loss, pregnant and breastfeeding women,
- and 11 mg / day for postmenopausal women.