I've noticed a pattern that sugary and non-sugary cereals are typically enriched with the same levels of every vitamin EXCEPT iron, which is typically twice as high in the non-sugary cereals. Here are some examples by percentage of adult-female iron RDA per serving (double the numbers to get percentage of adult-male iron RDA).

  • Cheerios, plain: 51%
  • Cheerios, any other flavor: 25%
  • Toasted oats, plain: 45%
  • Toasted oats, any other flavor: 25%
  • Corn flakes: 45%
  • Frosted flakes: 25%
  • Quaker oatmeal plain: 40%
  • Quaker oatmeal, any other flavor: 20%

So I have two questions:

  1. Why the heck do the manufacturers do this? Do they assume only female hemophiliacs eat plain cereals?
  2. How large is the risk of getting too much total iron from diet when you eat these cereals, considering the tolerable upper limit is only 40mg and the average adult male gets 20mg compared to an 8mg adult-male RDA. Just adding two largish bowls of cheerios to the average male diet would put it over the limit.
  • 1
    first check: are the serving sizes the same between the sweetened and plain cereals? Perhaps they're making their sugar and calorie less alarming with a smaller serving size? – Kate Gregory Mar 4 '17 at 17:45
  • For quaker oatmeal, the serving sizes are the same. For cheerios, the honey nut serving size is 25% smaller than the plain serving size, so that the total calories are the same. That only accounts for half of the difference in iron content. Also if you look at iron content per gram of complex carbohydrate that's 30% higher in cheerios than in in honey nut cheerios. Corn flakes vs frosted flakes is the same story as cheerios. – Jonathan Ray Mar 5 '17 at 5:52

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