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Why is the iron RDA for women higher than men?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron is higher for women than men due to several physiological factors unique to females.

1. Menstruation plays a significant role, as women lose blood during their menstrual cycles, resulting in regular iron loss. Menstruating women require higher iron intakes to compensate for these losses and maintain iron balance.

2. Women experience increased iron demands during pregnancy to support the expansion of blood volume and fetal growth. The RDA for iron during pregnancy is significantly higher to meet the demands of both the mother and the developing fetus.

3. Women generally have lower iron stores compared to men, primarily due to their lower average body weight and muscle mass. It is suggested that women require higher iron intakes to replenish and maintain iron stores.

4. Women have a higher prevalence of iron deficiency anemia compared to men.

Taking these factors into consideration, the RDA for iron is set higher for women to ensure adequate iron status and prevent iron deficiency anemia.

It is important to note that individual iron requirements may vary based on factors such as age, health status, and lifestyle. Consulting healthcare professionals or registered dietitians can provide personalized guidance regarding iron intake and help prevent iron deficiency anemia.


  1. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. (2001). Iron. In Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. National Academies Press (US).

  2. Hallberg, L., & Rossander-Hultén, L. (1991). Iron requirements in menstruating women. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 54(6), 1047–1058.

  3. National Research Council (US) Subcommittee on Nutritional Status and Weight Gain during Pregnancy. (1990). Iron. In Nutrition During Pregnancy: Part I, Weight Gain. National Academies Press (US).

  4. Patterson, A. J., Brown, W. J., & Roberts, D. C. (2000). Dietary and supplement treatment of iron deficiency results in improvements in general health and fatigue in Australian women of childbearing age. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 19(6), 738-747.

  5. McLean, E., Cogswell, M., Egli, I., Wojdyla, D., & de Benoist, B. (2009). Worldwide prevalence of anaemia, WHO Vitamin and Mineral Nutrition Information System, 1993-2005. Public Health Nutrition, 12(4), 444-454.

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