Understanding the Importance of Iron: Decoding the 15% Daily Value on Cracker Packages

When you pick up a package of crackers, you might notice a nutritional label that indicates a 15 percent daily value for iron. This percentage can be confusing if you’re not familiar with how daily values are calculated and what they mean for your health. Iron is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, and understanding its daily value can help you maintain a balanced diet.

What Does a 15 Percent Daily Value for Iron Mean?

The daily value percentage on a food label indicates how much of a certain nutrient, in this case iron, is in a single serving of that food. The percentage is based on a daily intake of 2,000 calories, which is the average daily calorie intake for adults. Therefore, if a package of crackers has a 15 percent daily value for iron, it means that one serving of those crackers provides 15 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron for an average adult.

Why is Iron Important?

Iron is a vital mineral that our bodies need to function properly. It plays a key role in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. Without enough iron, our bodies can’t produce enough healthy oxygen-carrying red blood cells, leading to iron deficiency anemia. Symptoms of this condition include fatigue, weakness, and a decreased immune function.

How Much Iron Do We Need?

The amount of iron you need each day depends on your age, sex, and overall health. According to the National Institutes of Health, adult men and postmenopausal women need about 8 milligrams of iron per day, while premenopausal women need about 18 milligrams per day. Pregnant women need even more, about 27 milligrams per day. However, these values can vary depending on individual health conditions and lifestyle factors.

How Can We Get Enough Iron?

Iron can be found in a variety of foods. Meat, poultry, and seafood are excellent sources of iron. Other good sources include beans, lentils, and fortified cereals. Consuming a balanced diet that includes these foods can help ensure you get enough iron. However, if you’re unable to meet your iron needs through diet alone, iron supplements may be recommended by your healthcare provider.


Understanding the daily value percentages on food labels can help you make informed decisions about your diet and ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. While a 15 percent daily value for iron on a package of crackers might not seem significant, every bit contributes to your overall daily intake. By paying attention to these labels, you can ensure you’re getting enough iron and other essential nutrients in your diet.