If the doctor has told you that you are low on iron, you may be considering making some dietary changes. However, needing more iron does not mean that you have to stop being vegan – there are plenty of ways to consume iron on a plant-based diet. In this article, we’ll go through them!
What is iron?
Iron is a vital mineral that helps our bodies grow. Essentially, iron makes proteins that help to transport oxygen around the body.
Red meat is known to be a good source of iron. This is true – however, there are plenty of other foods which also contain iron, many of which are vegan.
Do I need an iron supplement?
Most people, even vegetarians and vegans, consume enough iron. However, you may need an iron supplement if the following applies to you:
- You have had anemia in the past.
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you menstruate, you are experiencing any changes in your menstruation and feel unusually weak or tired.
- You feel weak or tired generally.
- You do not consume any iron-rich foods.
If you suspect that you may need an iron supplement for any of the above reasons, speak to your doctor or dietician. They can do a blood test to determine whether you are anemic and advise you on the best action.
Best vegan iron supplements
There are plenty of vegan iron supplements on the market. Here are some of the best ones:
- Future Kind: this is an iron and vitamin C supplement, which means that it both gives you more iron and helps it absorb better. Future Kind is well-known for its rigorous testing, so you can be sure that these capsules will work well!
- Deva Vegan chelated iron: this supplement has 29mg of iron, so it’s great for people who have very low iron levels. It’s also got added B12, which is an essential vitamin for vegans.
- Garden of Life Vitamin Code: this raw iron supplement contains plenty of essential vitamins and nutrients, as well as 22mg of iron. Garden of Life is proud to make products that are good for your stomach, so you won’t need to worry about any gut issues when taking this supplement.
- Snap Iron Builder: this supplement contains vitamins B and C and is also high in fiber. This is an ideal option if you want to boost your overall health as well as increase your iron intake, and it is safe for pregnant people.
Iron-rich vegan food to enjoy
Your doctor may advise that you add iron-rich foods to your diet rather than taking supplements. Here are some suggestions for how to do that.
Tofu is one of the best iron-rich vegan foods – it has even more iron than red meat! It is also incredibly versatile.
One of the best ways to consume tofu is to add it to dishes in place of meat. First, get rid of any moisture in your tofu by using a tofu press like this one. This ensures that the tofu absorbs flavors and doesn’t fall apart when cooking. Then, cut it into cubes and cook it like you would fry chicken or any other meat.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables, like cabbage, spinach, and kale, are excellent sources of iron. You can enjoy these by simply adding a handful of them to any stir fry, curry, or chili.
Alternatively, you can oven bake kale by rubbing it with oil, salt, and pepper and placing it in an oven for 15 minutes – the result is delicious kale chips.
3. Beans and pulses
Most beans and pulses, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils, are excellent iron sources.
To add these to your diet, you could cook a vegan bolognese using lentils instead of mince. Or, add a tin of beans to a curry, salad, or stir-fry.
4. Vitamin C
Eating food containing vitamin C makes it easier for your body to absorb iron. Therefore, as well as eating more iron, you should also boost your level of vitamin C.
You’ll find plenty of vitamin C in fruit and vegetables, such as oranges, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, and pepper.
While not all vegans need iron supplements, it is vital to make sure that your iron levels are adequate. Ensure that you follow a healthy diet with all of the food mentioned above, and speak to your doctor or dietician if you suspect that you may have anemia. Luckily, with lots of delicious food and vegan iron supplements, anemia is easily treatable.