Medical Articles

Iron On A Vegan Diet

Iron is another common worry for those starting a vegan diet. The truth is with careful dietary planning getting sufficient iron isn't much of a worry compared to vitamin b12, vitamin D and iodine for example. Iron deficiency isn't all that much more common in vegans than in vegetarians or meat eaters.

What Is Iron & The Different Types

Iron is an essential mineral which is a necessary component in the formation of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in red blood cells aswell as other functions.

There are two different forms of iron which are known as heme and non-heme. Heme iron is the type of iron found in animal products such as meat, fish and poultry. Iron in plant foods such as beans and vegetables is known as non-heme iron. Heme iron is absorbed very well by the body where as plant iron(non-heme) isn't absorbed as well.

Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron. Being that vegan diets tend to be higher in vitamin C due including more fruits and vegetables, this is why vegans tend to have satisfactory iron levels. So adding a vitamin C source to your meals is a wise idea so you can get better absorption of iron. The good bit is many of the vegetables such as broccoli which are rich in iron are also a good source of vitamin C.

If your a tea or coffee drinker then its best to have these several hours before meals as the tannins they contain reduce iron absorption. Again vitamin C helps counter act the effects of tannins on iron absorption.

You should not supplement with iron unless you have been advised by your doctor. Supplementing with iron when you don't need too can result in iron overload disorders such hemochromatosis.

The RDA(Recommended Daily Allowance)

The RDA(Recommended Daily Allowance) for iron varies considerably on age, gender and conditions such as pregnancy. It is thought around 10-15mg daily is of sufficient quantity.

Iron requirements increase during pregnancy to double the amount of non-pregnant woman, the ideal amount is 27-30mg daily.

Symptoms Of Deficiency

Iron deficiency can have many symptoms some of the main ones are fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, frequent colds and infections, cold hands and feet, brittle nails and swelling or soreness of the tongue.

Vegan Sources

There are many great vegan sources of iron, specifically beans/pulses and dark green leafy vegetables being the best options.

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