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Iron Supplement FAQ

 

What is the difference between heme and non-heme iron?

 

There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. The difference between heme and non-heme iron is simple: heme iron is derived from hemoglobin; non-heme irons do not come from an animal source.

 

 

Heme iron

Non-heme iron

What is it?

Heme iron is found in foods that contained hemoglobin – animal foods including red meats, fish and poultry.

 

Non-heme iron is the form of iron found in all other, non-meat based foods.

Iron sources in food

 

A serving of chicken livers, clams, or roasted beef tenderloin contains all the iron you need for a day.

clams

 

Non-heme iron can be found in vegetables, grains, iron-fortified breakfast cereal, lentils and beans.

Bifera-iron-fortified-cereal

Iron absorption

 

One of the biggest benefits is that heme iron is absorbed better than non-heme iron, and its absorption isn’t affected by anything else you eat. We absorb approximately 15-35% of the heme iron we eat, which is a lot!

 

Non-heme iron is not absorbed by the body as well as heme iron. Only 2 - 20% of non-heme iron is absorbed.

 

While heme iron is not affected by other food eaten concurrently, there are many factors that affect the absorption of non-heme iron. For instance, the non-heme iron in Popeye’s spinach is bound to a substance called phytic acid, the storage form of phosphorus in plants.

 

Iron absorption is enhanced when both heme and non-heme iron are taken together. Bifera is the only iron supplement available over the counter, that provides both heme and non-heme iron in a single, small pill.