6 Herbs High in Iron

Iron is a vital mineral for blood and DNA health. The body does not create this element, so it’s essential that humans receive iron from the food and supplements they …

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Written by: Siobhan Mendicino
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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Iron is a vital mineral for blood and DNA health. The body does not create this element, so it’s essential that humans receive iron from the food and supplements they consume. 

While iron provides many health benefits, it’s difficult for the body to absorb. Many plants contain significant iron levels and nutrients that promote iron absorption.

So what herbs are high in iron, and what’s the best way to consume them? In this article, we’ll go over a list of iron rich herbs, as well as the health benefits of iron.

herbs high in iron

Iron Overview:

Iron is an element naturally found in nature and is most commonly associated with hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells. Iron is necessary for one of hemoglobin’s primary functions – carrying oxygen throughout the body.  

Along with its role in cellular functioning, iron is also necessary for immune and muscle function, as well as for DNA synthesis. 

Vitamin C is an important mineral that supports the absorption of iron into the bloodstream. After absorption, if the iron is not immediately required, it gets stored in the liver, heart, bone marrow, and endocrine tissue.

There are two different types of iron: ferrous iron comes from animals and ferric iron comes from plants.

  • Ferrous Iron – a form of iron that is water soluble and easily absorbed by the body.
  • Ferric Iron – an iron form that needs assistance from other minerals, like vitamin C and fermented foods, to be absorbed efficiently.

Getting sufficient amounts of iron is necessary for health and vitality. Having low levels of iron can lead to anemia. Although it’s more difficult for the human body to process iron from plants, many herbs high in iron have mechanisms that support iron absorption into the body. 

Herbs High in Iron:

Below is a list of the best herbs for increasing iron.

herbs high in iron - spirulina
Microalgae (Spirulina

1. Microalgae (Spirulina

Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, contains one of the highest iron levels. This herb grows in salt and fresh water and has been used for centuries by many cultures.

Research shows that spirulina supports the metabolization of iron and reduces anemic symptoms.

It’s estimated that 1 Tbsp of spirulina contains 2mg of iron. This makes spirulina one of the best herbs for anemia. 

Healthcare professionals recommend taking a supplement to receive the benefits of spirulina. It can be taken in capsule form, or as a powder added to smoothies or protein shakes.


Research indicates that spirulina benefits iron metabolization and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia.
herbs high in iron - parsley
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

2. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

A common kitchen herb, parsley is one of the best herbs high in iron and is also noted for its ability to support iron absorption. The aerial parts and seeds are used medicinally, and although it can be found in the wild, it’s mainly grown by farmers.

The leaves have the greatest iron content and can be used in culinary dishes as a flavoring or garnish. Studies show that parsley also supports the absorption of iron by intestinal cells.      

1 cup of fresh parsley yields around 3.7 mg of iron.

Parsley is a versatile herb that can be consumed fresh, dried, or in tincture.


According to studies, parsley has been found to not only contain high iron levels, but also to support iron absorption.
herbs high in iron - dandelion
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

3. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The dandelion is a sunny herb found in meadows, on roadsides, and throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They produce bright yellow flowers, and the entire plant is considered therapeutic. Like other dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and Swiss chard), the leaves contain significant amounts of iron. 

Comparable to nettles, 1 cup of raw dandelion leaves are estimated to contain 1.7 mg of iron, according to the FDA.  

Dandelion leaves can be eaten raw, cooked, or made into tea to prevent anemia and support healthy blood functioning.  

If you choose to forage for dandelion leaves, avoid roadsides and any areas contaminated by pollution. 


Dandelion leaves contain iron and are thought to prevent anemia while promoting blood health.
herbs high in iron - stinging nettle
Nettle (Urtica dioica)

4. Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle, more commonly called “stinging nettle,” is a highly nutritious herb found growing throughout the world. Along with significant levels of iron, nettle is also rich in calcium, silica, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. 

This stinging herb is one of the best iron sources found in nature. Although it can be challenging to harvest, nettle is frequently made into various culinary dishes, like soups and pesto. 

Due to its natural iron content, nettle is highly supportive for preventing and reducing anemic symptoms, improving blood conditions, and rebuilding strength after an illness.     

1 cup of cooked nettles is estimated to contain 1.5mg of iron.

The best way to consume nettles for their iron content is to blanch them first, then add them to your dish. This helps to clean and de-sting them. They can also be consumed in capsule form.


Stinging nettle has been shown to benefit blood conditions and symptoms of anemia.
herbs high in iron - jujube
Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba)

5. Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba)

Jujube is a date-like fruit that has been used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for millennia. When dried, its significant levels of iron (1.8mg/100g) and high amounts of vitamin C make it an excellent candidate for iron supplementation.

Studies show that jujube fruit water extracts help to reduce the risk of anemia.

Jujube can be consumed in various ways, including raw (as a snack), cooked into jam, roasted with meats and vegetables, baked into treats, or added to soups and sauces. 


Jujube shows benefits for increasing iron levels and lowering anemia risk.
herbs high in iron - yellow dock
Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus

6. Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus

Yellow dock is an herb used for its medicinal root. While this “wildflower” doesn’t have high levels of iron, yellow dock’s adequate iron levels and vitamin C content support the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize iron into the bloodstream. 

Traditionally, yellow dock root was taken by pregnant women to improve their levels of iron. 

Due to the hardy nature of the root, yellow dock is most effective when consumed as a decoction, tincture, or fluid extract.   


Yellow dock shows the ability to increase the absorption and metabolization of iron in the body.

Benefits of Iron:

Iron, most commonly known for its relationship with blood, is a key element and health requirement for all living things. Through absorption, the body metabolizes iron and uses it to  help transport oxygen, synthesize DNA, and transport electrons.

Along with iron’s well-known ability to support hemoglobin, iron also encourages the creation of myoglobin, a protein that supplies muscles with oxygen.   

Additionally, iron is important for brain health due to its significant role in the synthesis and metabolism of neurotransmitters, neuron support, and energy metabolism. Since these functions make cognition possible, low iron levels can lead to neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive impairment.  

Other nutrients that play a role in iron absorption include vitamin C and A, which are important for maintaining immune system health.

How Much Iron Per Day?

Your daily iron requirements differ based on your gender and age. Women who menstruate or are pregnant need to consume higher amounts of iron to maintain healthy levels.  

Below is a helpful chart.

Age GroupRDA (mg/day)
Men8 mg
Women18 mg
Teen Boys (14 – 18 years) 11 mg
Teens Girls (14 – 18 years) 15 mg 
Children (4 – 13 years) 8 – 10 mg
Children (1 – 3 years)7 mg
Infants (0 – 12 months) 11 mg 
Pregnant Women27 mg
Breastfeeding Women9 mg

It is important to note that these are the recommended daily allowances, which are the minimum amount of a nutrient a person needs to avoid an iron deficiency. Some individuals may need more or less iron depending on their individual needs and health conditions.


Consuming herbs high in iron will help the body’s fundamental processes and prevent conditions like anemia.    

Since it can be difficult for the body to absorb iron, it’s best to go with herbs that contain sufficient amounts of iron and potentially supplement with other helpful nutrients, like vitamin c-rich rosehips or citrus fruits.  

Do you have a favorite iron herb? Let us know!

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About Siobhan Mendicino

Siobhan is a herbal researcher and writer. She has a bachelor of science in communications as well as having completed a post-baccalaureate certificate in herbal studies.