Ironing Out Veg Iron Deficiency



Although there is a common misconception that vegans or vegetarian don’t get enough iron in their diet, this myth can easily be debunked with background knowledge. As you know, just like B12, iron is also an essential mineral because it contributes to the production of blood cells. 

Considering the importance of the mineral, deficiency can cause anaemia. And as scary as this sounds, vegan and vegetarians should not be over worried. Why? Because iron absorption is increased by the consumption of Vitamin C! The more Vitamin C, the more easily the iron is absorbed. For example, tofu and broccoli are a great combination if you are looking to increase your iron intake. The high Vitamin C rate in the tofu and high iron in the broccoli cause your body to easily absorb these minerals.So although iron in meats is more easily absorbed than planet-based foods, this can be altered with a well balanced diet — fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, and nuts and seeds. 
If you’re concerned about your iron intake, there are simple things you can do. Besides eating the Vitamin C and iron food combination, you can cook your food in cast-iron skillets, and simply spread out your intake throughout the day. This shouldn’t be a problem if you are consistently eating a healthy variety of foods. Still not convinced? Studies show that the iron status of vegans is usually normal, and iron deficiency is no more common than in the general population. Therefore, you’re no more at risk than anyone else.Besides, did you know that you would have to eat more than 1700 calories of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron as found in 100 calories of spinach? It’s no wonder that this misconception is made by meat eaters and that vegetarians and vegans aren’t the ones questioning each other.

Unfortunately though, iron deficiency is dependent on your bodies ability to absorb it. Although Vitamin C intake can help, this isn’t always something you can control. If you experience any concern about your iron levels, be aware that self-diagnosis for anaemia is difficult. Therefore, it’s best to consider consulting a doctor for a blood work test. Also, realize that deficiency immediately impacts your health, but so does iron overload so having the right amount is key. Luckily, you can easily bounce back to your normal levels if you fix where you went wrong or start supplementing if you body isn’t able to absorb the iron it needs.

Take a look at the recommended iron intake:

Amounts Required (mg/day):
infants from 0-3 months – 1.7
rising at 12 months – 7.8
children – 6.1-8.7
teenagers – 11.3-14.8
men – 8.7
women – 14.8

If you thought reading a number was easy, you’ll be amazed by all the iron rich, plant-based foods below. It really can be easy.

Non-animal iron sources:

Eating red meat and organ meat are the most efficient ways to get iron, but for vegans, obviously, that’s not going to happen. Here are many plant-based foods with some of the highest iron levels:

Food  –  Amount – Iron (mg)

Soybeans,cooked – 1 cup – 8.8
Blackstrap molasses – 2 Tbsp – 7.2
Lentils, cooked – 1 cup – 6.6
Spinach, cooked – 1 cup – 6.4
Tofu – 4 ounces – 6.4
Bagel, enriched – 1 medium – 6.4
Chickpeas, cooked – 1 cup – 4.7
Tempeh – 1 cup – 4.5
Lima beans, cooked – 1 cup – 4.5
Black-eyed peas, cooked – 1 cup – 4.3
Swiss chard, cooked – 1 cup – 4.0
Kidney beans, cooked – 1 cup – 3.9
Black beans, cooked – 1 cup – 3.6
Pinto beans, cooked – 1 cup – 3.6
Turnip greens, cooked – 1 cup – 3.2
Potato – 1 large – 3.2
Prune juice – 8 ounces – 3.0
Quinoa, cooked – 1 cup – 2.8
Beet greens, cooked – 1 cup – 2.7
Tahini – 2 Tbsp – 2.7
Veggie hot dog, iron-fortified – 1 hot dog – 2.7
Peas, cooked – 1 cup – 2.5
Cashews – 1/4 cup – 2.1
Bok choy, cooked – 1 cup – 2.8
Bulgur, cooked – 1 cup – 1.7
Raisins – 1/2 cup – 1.6
Apricots, dried – 15 halves – 1.4
Veggie burger – 1 patty – 1.4
Watermelon – 1/8 melon – 1.4
Almonds – 1/4 cup – 1.3
Kale, cooked – 1 cup – 1.2
Sunflower seeds – 1/4 cup – 1.2
Broccoli, cooked  – 1 cup – 1.1
Millet, cooked – 1 cup – 1.1
Soy yogurt – 6 ounces – 1.1
Tomato juice – 8 ounces – 1.0
Sesame seeds – 2 Tbsp – 1.0

Brussels sprouts, cooked – 1 cup – 0.9

With all the plant foods available, who needs to use not eating meat as an excuse for a low iron level? If anything, eating meat is the reason for it! For more information about iron, watch the educational video below!
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  • PlzBeKind

    This is a useful page. Instead of having to repeat myself whenever this ridiculous iron issue arises, I can just post a link to this page instead. Thanks!

    • Thank you! So glad it helped you 🙂