There is no cause for alarm. Heme and non-heme refer to absorbability, not quality of iron. Iron absorption depends in part on its source. Iron occurs in two forms in food. Heme iron is found in foods derived from animals, such as red meat, poultry and fish. Then there is non-heme iron, which is found in both plant-derived and animal-derived foods. On average, 10 percent of the iron a non-vegetarian person consumes is heme iron. The body absorbs heme iron very well — it absorbs 23 percent of it. Between 2 percent and 20 percent of non-heme iron is absorbed, depending on dietary factors and the body’s iron stores.