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Anemia and vegetarians: Iron Status of Vegetarian Adults: A Review of Literature


Addressing Low Iron and Anemia in Vegetarians and Vegans


Are you a vegetarian or vegan who is concerned about low iron or anemia? You are not alone! Many people who follow a vegetarian diet or vegan lifestyle wonder if they are getting enough iron or if they are putting themselves at risk for anemia. Here I’ll share some info about low iron and anemia, what you can do to ensure you are getting enough iron, and what my experience has been with anemia.

Anemia Explained

The National Institutes of Health reports that anemia is a condition in which your blood has a lower-than-normal amount of red blood cells or hemoglobin. If you have anemia, your body is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood, which can lead to you feeling tired, weak, short of breath, and you may experience headaches, tingling in the hands, feel colder than usual, and you may have an irregular heartbeat. It can be a sign of a serious condition, or it could be a sign that you are not consuming enough iron, or that you are not absorbing enough iron.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are around 2.8 million people per year who visit the doctor due to anemia. It’s a condition that also kills over 5,000 people per year in the US alone. Globally, the World Health Organization reports that around 1.62 billion people have anemia, or roughly 25% of the world’s population. Clearly, anemia is an issue that many people around the world are touched by.

How We Get Iron

We get our iron from what we consume. There are two kinds of iron to know about, which are heme and non-heme. Heme iron is that which comes from animals. It’s easily absorbed and largely in abundance when eating meat. Non-heme iron is the iron that comes from plant-based foods, and it is not as easily absorbed. This leaves many people wondering if vegetarians and vegans are more at risk for anemia than their meat eating counterparts.  There has been some research conducted on this issue, including: 

  • Research published in the May 2018 issue of the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and  Nutrition, where they concluded that “vegetarians are more likely to have lower iron stores compared with non-vegetarians.
  • Research published in the February 2019 issue of the journal Nutrition Research and Practice, where they concluded that anemia was a public health problem among female vegetarians in their study. Their study of 177 vegetarian women found that 28% of them were anemic.
  • Research in The Medical Journal of Australia advises that vegetarians who eat a varied and well balanced diet are not at any greater risk of iron deficiency anemia than non-vegetarians.
  • Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition advises that although the iron stores of vegetarians may be reduced, the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia in vegetarians is not significantly different from that in omnivores.
  • Research in the journal Nutrients, reported that their study showed iron deficiency was frequent in vegetarian/vegan women (although not in men). 

There is information on both sides, with research showing that vegetarians and vegans may have lower iron stores, but not necessarily be anemic. Vegetarians and vegans may be more at risk for anemia, but they are not the only groups of people who are at a higher risk for it. According to the American Society of Hematology (hematology specializes in the blood), others who are at a higher risk of anemia include menstruating women, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, those who have undergone major surgery, people with gastrointestinal diseases, those who have had gastric bypass, and children who drink at 16 ounces of cow’s milk per day (cow’s milk inhibits iron absorption).

How do you know if you are anemic?

You will need to have a blood test conducted in order to determine if you are anemic. You may experience some symptoms of anemia that bring the issue to your attention, such as being tired, having no energy, being pale, rapid heartbeat, craving ice, brittle hair, etc. A quick way to see if you may be anemic, is to gently pull down your lower eyelid and see what the color is on the inside (the side against your eye). Those who do not have anemia usually have a bright pinkish/red look, while those who are anemic won’t have that, it may be pale for them. This is not a definitive test,  however, so it is best to go have a blood test taken if you suspect you may have anemia. It can be a serious situation, so it is not something to overlook and not take action about.

How to Increase Iron Intake as a Vegetarian or Vegan

Vegetarians and vegans can get iron from eating such foods as leafy greens, dried fruits, legumes, iron enriched pasta, rice, and bread, chia seeds, quinoa, nuts, potatoes, oatmeal, flax seed, tofu, etc. Plus, it is good to consume vitamin C with your iron, as it helps with increasing absorption. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus foods, berries, pineapple, bell peppers, etc. You can also boost your iron intake by using a cast iron pot/pan to do your cooking. Iron absorption is also increased by consuming vitamin around the same time. It’s also important to know that there are things that can inhibit your iron intake, such as drinking tea around your meals. Tea can drastically reduce the amount of iron that your body absorbs from your food, therefore you should avoid drinking it with your meals. Try to drink it at least an hour before or after your meals.

You can also take an iron supplement, but if you do please check with a medical professional regarding how much to take. Addressing your anemia also depends on what is causing it. It can be caused by loss of blood inside the body, heavy periods, nutritional deficiencies, B12 deficiency, and more. If you are not sure what is causing your low iron or anemia you should consult with a medical professional who can help you find the cause and help you treat it. It is important to know the reason for your anemia in order to properly address it.

My Experience Being Anemic as a Vegetarian / Vegan

I’ve been vegetarian (primarily vegan) since October 1995. I’ve battled anemia issues my whole life. I know it’s not because of my diet, because two of my sisters (who are meat eaters) also battle anemia. Several years back, I was diagnosed with having Crohn’s Disease, which is a disease that leads to poor iron absorption. So no matter how well I do with eating a lot of iron-rich foods, my body has a difficult time absorbing it. Add to that my addiction to drinking tea and it’s a mess. 

Back about six months ago, I could tell that something was wrong with my iron. While I battle anemia on and off forever, it seemed it must be really low. I was extremely tired every day, very cold, tingling in my hands, and my blood pressure was going up. Plus, I’m a runner and  I noticed my pace had gotten about 2 minutes slower per mile, for no apparent reason. I literally could not run faster, even when I tried. I just didn’t have it in me. And it made sense, because if you are anemic your body isn’t getting the oxygen needs for you to maintain your faster pace. (I also learned that you lose iron through sweat, and I sweat a lot when I run – and I run three days per week).

Because I battle anemia on and off, I have my blood tested here and there on my own to keep an eye on it. I order my own blood tests through a place like HealthLabs.com or PersonalLabs.com. It’s simple, because you don’t need to see a doctor. You order and pay for your test on your own, go to a local lab to have the blood drawn, and usually the next day the results are available online. Simple, affordable, and I don’t have to go to a doctor to have the test. Better yet, invest in a home hemoglobin meter! 

In August 2018, my hemoglobin was at 11.4. Not bad at all for me. It was on the low end of normal, but I was feeling fine and it had been staying around that level for well over a year. I had been taking an iron tablet, but I’m not always good with keeping up with it, because it makes me sick to my stomach. Then I began feeling anemia symptoms and went for another test in April 2019. I was shocked to see my hemoglobin had dropped to 8.6. I immediately started watching when I drink my tea and made sure to take that iron tablet daily, even though it made me feel sick. I tried to include more iron-rich foods. I bought an iron skillet. 

I went back to re-test five weeks later. My hemoglobin had only went up to 9.1. It went up a little, but wasn’t going up fast enough. I began researching if there was a better option than taking the iron tablets I was taking. I found that the best absorbed are chewables and liquids (although the liquid stains your teeth), followed by softgels, then tablets. I was taking the source that was the least absorbed! 

I remembered that my neighbor had battled anemia about a year prior. I texted her to see what she was taking and if it helped. She highly recommended Hema-Plex chewables. I immediately placed an order for them and started taking them. Now, I will tell you that they taste horrible. Like grabbing a metal bar and licking it. But I needed something that works, so I took them daily. Right after swallowing them I would drink water or grab a bite of something to get the taste out of my mouth. I loved the fact that they did not make me sick. I felt fine taking them every day! 

I went back to re-test after taking the Hema-Plex for five weeks. My hemoglobin had went up to 10.8 in that time. Yay! I continue taking them today, which has been another month. I haven’t re-tested again yet, but I feel confident that they are working. For me, what worked to bring up my hemoglobin was taking Hema-Plex chewables each day, not drinking tea around my meals, and continuing the other things I do of trying to eat foods with iron. I realize that having Crohn’s Disease my body doesn’t do a great job of absorbing the iron I consume, so I’m happy to have found Hema-Plex and that it’s working. My neighbor does not have Crohn’s, by the way. My husband, who eats the same diet, does not have any issues with anemia, by the way. 

The bottom line is that being a vegetarian or vegan doesn’t automatically mean you are going to be anemic, but if you are are also a menstruating female, have a gastrointestinal disease, or some other condition, you may be at a higher risk. Or if you are a vegetarian or vegan who doesn’t consume enough plant-based iron-rich foods you could be at risk for anemia. If you are experiencing anemia symptoms, it’s a good idea to get tested and take action to bring it up if you iron/hemoglobin level is too low. One of my sisters who had anemia found out she had internal bleeding, which was causing the problem. If you have anemia you need to know what is causing it so that it can be addressed.

Update October 2020: I have since purchased a home hemoglobin meter, which you can read about here.

How to Avoid Anemia on a Vegan Diet

How can you avoid anemia on a vegan diet? Most often caused by an iron deficiency, a plant-based diet may increase one’s risk of anemia. But by including certain foods in your diet, you can help reduce your risk of this health condition.

What Causes Anemia in Vegans?

Are vegans particularly at risk of developing anemia? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, anemia is actually the most common blood disorder in the US, affecting more than 3 million Americans – vegan or not. But it doesn’t mean that vegans shouldn’t be mindful of following a healthy diet.

Anemia occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells or when the cells don’t function properly. It’s most commonly caused by iron deficiency but may also be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, pregnancy, or other health issues. To learn more about what iron does for the body, how much you should eat daily, and the different types of iron see here.

Signs that you may be at risk of anemia include chronic fatigue, pale or yellowish skin, weakness, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, headache, chest pain, and cold hands and feet, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you believe that your are at risk of iron deficiency anemia or vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, schedule an appointment with a doctor.

 While meat and seafood are thought to be the superior way to get iron, there are plenty of plant-based foods that can help you get enough. You can avoid iron deficiency anemia by eating a wide variety of iron-rich foods or by including supplements in your diet. For vegan iron supplements, try myKind Organics for Men or Women. Talk to your doctor before introducing any supplements into your diet.

13 Vegan Foods Rich in Iron

Here are some of the most iron-rich plant-based foods you can include in your diet. Be sure to eat lots of vitamin C-rich food such as citrus fruit, cauliflower, and broccoli as well — doing this can help increase iron absorption by up to 300 percent.

1. Beans

Iron-rich vegan foods | Image/The Good Bean

Beans like chickpeas and black-eyed peas have the highest iron content of beans, with cooked beans containing around 4.2 to 4.7 mg iron per cooked cup, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG). This is followed by soybeans, white, navy, kidney, lima, and pinto beans.

Dried beans cooked from scratch have the highest iron content (give this Chickpea Tuna Salad Sandwich a try), but you can also opt for a convenient canned option or enjoy the occasional bean-based vegan snack like The Good Bean’s chickpea snacks or Brami Lupini Beans. A bag of Hippeas Vegan White Cheddar, which is made from chickpea flour, contains 6 percent your RDI of iron per serving!

2. Lentils

Iron-rich lentils | Image/Food to Live

Like beans, lentils pack a decent dose of iron. One cup of cooked lentils contains about 6.6 mg of iron. There are plenty of varieties to try in different recipes — brown and green lentils work best in meals like curry, stew, or a protein-packed vegan meatloaf. Red lentils, which turn mushy when cooked, are best for Indian dahls and curries and blended soups. French and beluga lentils both have a firm texture even when cooked, making them ideal for salads with iron-rich, dark leafy greens.

3. Soy Foods

Vegan meal with tofu

Like soybeans themselves, soy-based foods like tofu, tempeh, and soy milk are a good source of iron. Have a bowl of cereal or oats made with soy milk. Tofu and tempeh are available at most mainstream grocery stores these days. For an alternative, try natto, a Japanese breakfast staple made from fermented soy beans. It has a strong flavor and sticky texture that pairs well with rice. You can find natto at most Asian grocery stores but be sure to check the sauce ingredients as it sometimes includes fish.

4. Nuts, Seeds, and Nut Butters

Hemp seeds | Image/Manitoba Harvest

Nuts, seeds, and certain nut butters are a good source of iron. Pumpkin, sesame, hemp, and flax seeds rank among the highest, according to Healthline. Cashews, pine nuts, almonds, macadamia, and baruka nuts are also good sources.

Nut and seed butters — including tahini — can also help you meet your RDI, but roasted nuts and nut butter may have a lower iron content compared to raw.

5. Dark Leafy Greens

Iron-rich leafy greens reduce anemia risk

Don’t neglect your leafy greens. Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards, beet greens, and Swiss chard are all great sources of iron. In fact, 100 grams of spinach has more iron than the same amount of red meat, eggs, salmon, and chicken. You can add leafy greens to smoothies, have a salad, stir it into soups and curries, or sautee it and serve it as a side with dinner — or, snack on some kale chips.

Not a fan of kale? Veggies will do, too. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are also good sources of iron.

6. Potatoes

Potatoes with the skin on are rich in iron

The humble potato packs a decent amount of iron, as long as you leave the skin on. A large, unpeeled potato can contain up to 18 percent of your RDI of iron. So boil, bake, slice, mash (remember – skin on), scallop, and dice to your heart’s content.

Sweet potatoes aren’t bad either, containing about 12 percent of your RDI of iron.

7. Mushrooms

Organic Oyster Mushroom Growing Kit | Image/Back to the Roots

Mushrooms can be a good source of iron but only if you eat certain varieties, such as plain white button mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. While delicious, portobello and shiitake don’t contain much. Add sliced mushrooms to tofu scramble with leafy greens, or blend it up with beans and lentils to give vegan burgers a meatier texture and umami flavor. Oyster mushrooms are a little less common – if your local grocery store doesn’t have any, the farmers market might. Or, you can grow your own.

8. Hearts of Palm

Hearts of palm are a good source of iron | Image/Native Forest

Hearts of palm are the core of certain types of palm trees. About one cup of this tropical vegetable contains about 26 percent your RDI of iron. Hearts of palm have a firm texture and neutral flavor, making it a go-to favorite for vegan seafood dishes like crab cakes, scallops, calamari, and ceviche. It can also be blended up into a creamy spread, like in this French Bread Pizza With Artichoke and Hearts of Palm.

9. Tomato Paste and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes can help you avoid iron deficiency | Image/Sunny Fruit

Raw tomatoes may not pack much iron but tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes do — each contain 22 percent and 14 percent your RDI per half cup, respectively. Use tomato paste to make homemade pasta sauce and add sliced sun-dried tomatoes to salads and grain bowls.

10. Fruit

Mulberries are a rich source of iron | Image/Nativas Organics

While fruit generally doesn’t contain much iron, there are a few you can add to your diet, such as mulberries, olives (technically a fruit!), and prune juice. Fruit is also generally a good source of vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron.

11. Whole Grains

Iron-rich vegan cereal | Image/Arrowhead Mills

Eat a variety of whole grains, and eat them often. Amaranth, oats, and spelt are all good sources of iron, according to Healthline. Enjoy a bowl of spelt flakes, bake vegan cookies with spelt flour instead of white, or use the whole grain in a hearty bowl. Both oats and amaranth can be used to make a breakfast porridge — try changing it up with savory breakfasts, too.

12. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a good source of iron | Image/Montezuma’s

Dark chocolate is not only rich in antioxidants, but also iron — one ounce contains about 18 percent your RDI. It also contains maganese, copper, and magnesium, making this treat something of a superfood. It’s a good reason to treat yourself to a square or two of dark chocolate daily. Or, you can chop it fine and stir it into vegan brownie batter for a rich, indulgent treat.

13. Blackstrap Molasses

Organic Blackstrap Molasses | Image/Wholesome Sweeteners

According to the VRG, two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses will net you 7.2 grams of iron. Not everyone can stomach it by the spoonful, though, so try adding it to vegan baked goods, stirring it into oatmeal, or combining it with hot water.

I have Anemia. Which foods should I include in my vegan diet? Nidhi Mohan Kamal answers.

We often hear people complaining that it is not easy to adopt a vegan lifestyle because the nutritional requirements won’t be met. This is a reason most of us have heard infinite times but how much of it is true? When it comes to people who suffer from Anemia, getting substantial iron and various other nutrients are imperative. Which brings up the question – Can you really jump on the vegan wagon if you’re anemic? To answer this very question and to shed light on the topic we asked Dr. Nidhi Mohan Kamal, Director of NidSun Wellness, a food scientist and a nutrition expert to give us her thoughts. Here is what she has to say

What Causes Anemia?

Anemia is a medical condition in which either the red blood cell count or haemoglobin or both are less than normal. It can be caused due to three major factors which are:

• Blood Loss: Injury, surgery, menstruation

• Decreased production of red blood cells or haemoglobin

• Infections which can be caused by food not being washed, cooked and stored in hygienic conditions.

Moreover, iron deficiency is also the most common cause of anemia. This is because iron is a major component of haemoglobin and is essential for its proper function. Iron is easily available in non-vegetarian sources and those who consume meat and dairy can fight their anemia better. However, with vegans the deficiency of Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) and iron rich foods, can also be a contributing factor for anemia.

If you already have Anemia and you wish to go Vegan, here are some factors you need to keep in mind: 

1: Include Iron rich foods in your diet

If you are going vegan, it doesn’t mean you won’t have any sources of iron; the things you’ve heard are half true. All you require is, a shift of sources and your requirements can be easily met with plant-based sources effectively like raisins, dates, and lotus stem. Take lotus stem every alternative day or twice in a week and 2-3 raisins or 2 dates on a daily basis. Since the anaemia is being treated by dietary intervention, do not expect miracles in a day, give yourself at least 2 months to fully recover from the effects of anaemia. 

2: Include Vitamin B12 rich foods in your diet

Like Iron, Vitamin B12 is most easily found in non-vegan sources. Though, often we forget the fact that mother nature has a solution to any problem that humankind could ever face if you have the desire to find it. Fermented food products like idli and dosa are great when it comes to providing B12 or even nutritional yeast which comes from sugarcane or molasses; shitake mushrooms and fortified cereals are also good sources of Vitamin B12 if you want to recover from its effects nutritionally. Otherwise, one can always take B12 supplements as per your physician’s recommendation.

[Please never buy any sort of supplement without your doctor’s/ physician’s recommendation.]


3. Increasing absorption of Iron:

Every element of the body needs a driving force to be able to work to its full capacity. Iron is also one such element. It needs vitamin C to help proper absorption into our bodies. Now, vitamin C is a heat-labile vitamin [one that gets destroyed easily when it comes in contact with heat] hence you can’t cook it. So, if you are adding lemon, squeeze it over salads and consume immediately [it also starts getting destroyed when in contact with air, but this process is relatively slow]. Try an include raw citrus fruits like amla, sweet lime, oranges, guavas etc. Also, to increase the absorption of more iron in the body, try and avoid, tea/coffee/ green tea with meals, always have them 30-45 minutes post a meal.


4. Chelating Agents

Chelating agents such as Brazil nuts, high sulphur foods are those, that easily form strong bonds and help in giving a positive effect of the metal they are bonding with. Brazil nuts are the great source of antioxidants like selenium that helps fight infections and inflammation as well as supplying the body with iron. Foods high in sulphur like broccoli, kale, cabbage [all cruciferous vegetables], garlic, onion, contain a good amount of sulphur that again helps in the absorption of iron to an extent. But you cannot solely depend on just this to fight anemia!

So, if you follow the right dietary patterns, fighting anemia on a vegan diet can be a cakewalk.

We agree with Dr. Nidhi, a healthy nutritious vegan diet is key to fighting most illnesses caused by vitamin deficiencies. There is a definite science to balancing and getting the most from your food. Having a nutritionist or a great doctor that can correctly diagnose and treat your anemia will certainly help in overcoming this condition. We hope these health tips from Dr. Nidhi were helpful. If you have some of your own do let us know in the comment section below.


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Anemia Caused by Eating Vegetarian Should I be Concerned?

Published: · by Nicole · Updated: · This post may contain affiliate links.

Image: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

One of the most common arguments you’ll hear against going vegetarian is that you’ll get anemia. As if it’s your unavoidable fate if you are vegetarian, to get anemia caused by eating vegetarian. But the fact is, anemia can strike meat eaters and non-meat eaters a like. A study suggested that a well-planned vegetarian diet can provide the human body with the amount of iron it needs. In fact, the study states that iron-deficiency anemia is not significantly different than in meat eaters. But anemia can be a concern for vegetarians if they’re not eating right. Anemia caused by eating vegetarian should I be concerned?

Know your anemia types

Giving up meat suddenly without doing any key research is what’s likely to trigger anemia caused by eating vegetarian. You might be tempted to simply gravitate to eating more of the types of foods you’re used to eating that doesn’t contain meat. That might mean more refined carbohydrates like white bread, sugary cereals or cheese pizza. That’s when vegetarians can run into problems.

There are actually two types of anemia: iron deficiency anemia and B-12 deficiency anemia. It’s what it sounds like, one is caused by a lack of iron and the other a lack of vitamin B-12. A B-12 deficiency is actually what’s known as pernicious anemia. Iron plays a key role in making red blood cells, and can be a concern for vegetarians, as this vitamin is only available naturally through animal sources, meaning meat and animal products.

How to avoid anemia caused by eating vegetarian

With some proper research and work with your doctor, it’s entirely possible to avoid anemia caused by an improperly structured vegetarian diet. The first concern, of course, is making sure you’re getting enough B-12, since it comes from animal products like meat, dairy and eggs. This will look different for different vegetarian diets, since some people eat eggs and some don’t. Eggs and dairy will help you get the necessary B-12.

Even so, you can also look for other foods that are fortified with B-12, such as rice and soymilk. And then there’s always the option of supplements, though you’ll want to work with your doctor to find the right dose and option.

Then there’s the way to stop iron-deficiency anemia, which is to find foods that are high in iron. There are tons of vegetarian options to make sure you are getting high doses of iron. Some of the vegetarian foods with the highest doses of iron include soybeans, blackstrap molasses, lentils, spinach and tofu.

You may have to get a little more creative in the way you eat if you want to stay healthy as a vegetarian. But that’s one of the benefits of being a vegetarian. It forces you to look for more healthy, nutrient-dense ways to get in your daily calories, whether than means eating more spinach salads or incorporating more high-protein legumes into your diet. In the long run, your body will thank you for eating in a more health-conscious manner.

Anemia caused by eating vegetarian should I be concerned? If you have any other insights, please share in the comments below.

Fake News: Vegans are anemic

Anemia is a condition where the body lacks sufficient red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues, and there are various kinds and causes.1 It can be developed due to an inherited condition, through the use of certain prescription drugs or alcohol, through some chronic diseases or because of heavy periods. In terms of diet, it can be caused by a deficiency in iron, folic acid or vitamin B12 but all of these nutrients can be found on a plant-based diet. 

Research shows that those who don’t eat meat are no more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anemia than those who do.2 This may be because those eating meat-free diets tend to get more vitamin C, which helps us absorb iron,3 but, according to research, it may be because they actually get more iron, too.4 You see, even meat eaters get most of their iron from plants.5

There are two types of iron; heme iron, which is found in meat, and non-heme iron which is found in plants. Heme iron (the meaty type) can be digested more readily but it is also  associated with metabolic syndrome and heart disease.6 With this in mind, medical expert Dr. Michael Greger says the healthiest source of iron appears to be non-heme iron, which is found naturally in abundance in whole grains, beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.

As for folate, vegans tend to do pretty well. Data from the EPIC-Oxford study, which compares different dietary groups, showed that vegan participants had the highest levels of folate in their blood.7 Folate is easy to find as it is in leafy greens, beans, peas and lentils, oranges, beetroot, quinoa, mango, asparagus, avocado, okra, parsnips, chia seeds and ground flaxseed. 

Vegans do need to be more careful about B12 as it is found most prevalently in animal products. But vegans can get a good amount from fortified yeast extract, plant milks, breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast. Those who want to be absolutely certain of getting sufficient may also take a supplement.

So, there is no reason why the myth of the anemic vegan persists. Those who eat a balanced plant-based diet have no such concerns.

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Are vegetarians prone to iron deficiency anemia? | FBC Daily

Vegetarians or vegans have a risk of anemia due to the lack of iron and vitamin B12. The deficiency is a result of no intake of meat product. However, consuming vegetarian diet has a lot of benefits to human body. It can prevent several health issues related to blood vessels. Vegetarians will just need to adjust their daily diet to avoid the possibility of anemia.

Vegetarian diet is devoid all flesh foods and consume only fruits and vegetables. This diet pattern is prone to anemia because of inadequate iron and vitamin B12 consumption. The consequence would be abnormally lower level of red blood cells, leading to paleness and fatigue.

Iron from plant-based foods is non-heme type while human body can usually absorb heme iron (which can be found in meat). Eating vegetarian diet for a long period of time simply lessens iron storage.  Vitamin B12, likewise, can only be found in animal products. Though this vitamin can be stored in human body for quite some time and minimal amount is required, cutting meat from the daily diet depreciates the store of vitamin B12 which is essential for red blood cells production. Insufficient of such vitamin and mineral increases the chance of anemia.

However, vegetarians can prevent the risk of anemia by:

  • Consume fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C to increase non-heme iron absorption.
  • Add milk and eggs to the diet to replenish Vitamin B12 which can only be found in animal-based food source.

In conclusion, consuming only fruits and vegetables can lead to anemia due to inadequate iron and vitamin B12 intake. Adjusting your diet by consuming food rich in vitamin C and adding milk and eggs to your meals can help prevent anemia risk.

Apart from the suggested nutrition mentioned above, having a vitamin and mineral supplement is another choice for better health. FBC Daily is a supplementary food of 9 different vitamins boosting energy and 5 minerals, including iron and copper, enhancing the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells. It is suitable for everyone in the family.  A pill a day will keep our body energized for work and daily activities. FBC Daily is now available at drugstores nationwide.

Risks of iron deficiency among vegetarian college women

Vol. 4  No. 3 (2012) , Article ID: 18325 , 4 pages DOI:10.4236/health.2012.43018

Risks of iron deficiency among vegetarian college women

Susan N. Hawk1*, Kimberly Grage Englehardt2, Cindi Small2

1Department of Nutrition, Health and Exercise Science, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, USA; *Corresponding Author: [email protected]

2Department of Food Science and Nutrition, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, USA

Received 2 December 2011; revised 30 December 2011; accepted 9 January 2012

Keywords: Iron; Anemia; Vegetarian; Negative Iron Balance


Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency disease worldwide and poses a major threat in women of child-bearing age and those who follow a vegetarian diet. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether differences exist in iron status markers between female university students following a vegetarian and nonvegetarian diet. This study took a cross sectional analysis of 39 female students at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly State University) in San Luis Obispo, CA between the ages of 18 and 22. Of the participants, 19 followed a vegetarian diet and 20 followed a nonvegetarian diet. Characteristic, demographic, and anthropometric data were collected and analyzed. The results showed no significant difference in iron intake between the two groups. However, nearly 66% of vegetarians and 65% of non-vegetarians failed to meet the Recommended Daily Allowance for iron. No significant difference was found for serum iron, serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, and total iron binding capacity between subjects. Serum ferritin tended to be lower for vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians were in stage IV negative iron balance, with more vegetarians tending to be in stage IV negative iron balance than non-vegetarians. Thus, female college students, irrespective of their meat intake, may be at higher risk of developing negative iron balance and should be educated about iron deficiency anemia and the prevention of iron depletion. 


Iron deficiency anemia is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency disease worldwide and is often most commonly seen in children and women of child-bearing age [1]. In fact, estimates assume that impaired iron status occurs in 1% to 6% of the general population [2]. Regardless of dietary practices, the iron status of women is inferior to men [3]. Roughly 5% to 14% of women in the United States ages 15 to 44 years have impaired iron status [2]. Young women may be at the greatest risk of developing early stages of iron depletion as evidenced by one study that noted the prevalence to be 16% in women ages 20 to 49 years compared to 5% in women ages 50 to 79 [4]. Even marginal iron status is a potential problem in women and may pose a particular risk to those consuming either a vegan or vegetarian diet [5].

The dietary factors of greatest influence over one’s iron status include the form of iron consumed and any factors affecting its bioavailability [4]. In support of this, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that women of childbearing age eat foods rich in hemeiron and consume vitamin C-rich foods to enhance iron uptake [6]. Given that women of child bearing age tend to consume a diet limited in heme-iron, vegetarian college-aged women may be at considerable risk for poor iron status and anemia. The objective of this study was to ascertain whether college-aged vegetarian women have compromised iron status as indicated by altered hemoglobin, serum iron, serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, and total iron binding capacity.


2.1. Subjects

Subjects were recruited from a convenience sample of students at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo. Participants were female, current Cal Poly students between the ages of 18 and 22. Excluded from the study were women who smoked, were pregnant, took vitamin or mineral supplements, or took any medications (including oral contraceptives). Each individual interested in participating was interviewed and asked to complete a questionnaire to determine if they met all of the inclusion criteria. Thirty-nine subjects met the criteria and participated in this study. Among the subjects, 19 were self-reported vegetarians and 20 were self-reported non-vegetarians. Vegetarians were defined as those who did not consume meat or fish for approximately one year prior to and during the study. Of the vegetarians, three followed a vegan diet and one followed an ovo-vegetarian diet.

The research project was pre-approved by the Food Science and Nutrition Department, Research and Graduate Programs, and the Cal Poly Human Subjects Committee. All participants read and signed an informed consent for the participation in this research study.

2.2. Questionnaire

Eligible participants completed a questionnaire and a follow-up interview was conducted based on the responses given. Information including age, major, grade level, menstrual cycle, eating out habits, physical activity, diet, and any previous diagnosis of anemia was gathered frequency questionnaire regarding their consumption rates of proteins, starches, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fats, oil, and sweets. Information gathered from the food frequency questionnaire was used to verify and validate classification of each participant’s self-reported diet type.

2.3. Anthropometric Measures

Anthropometric measurements were taken at the initial participant meeting. Weight and height were measured and used to calculate body mass index (BMI).

2.4. Dietary Intake

The initial participant meeting also included instructtions for a three day food record. The participants were instructed to record all food and fluid consumed over two typical nonconsecutive weekdays and one typical weekend day. Other instructions provided addressed recording time, type and amount of food consumed, use of separate food record sheets for each day, recording brand names of food, ingredients, and names of restaurants. Food models were used to demonstrate portion sizes, household measures were discussed, food labels were reviewed and food reference materials were given to each participant to provide a better understanding on how to estimate portions of food and fluid consumed. Food records were reviewed by the researchers together with the participant to ensure that the information had been properly described. The three day food records were analyzed for each participant via Food Processor SQL Edition Version 9.6.0. The program included food items traditionally consumed in the United States. Mixed dishes were often separated into basic food components and participants provided the researchers with food labels or detailed descriptions when uncommon foods were consumed. The data was then used to ascertain differences in nutrient intakes between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The data analyzed included the consumption of calories, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, sugar, fiber, protein, iron, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus, caffeine, and water.

2.5. Hematological Analysis

A 12 hour fasting blood sample was drawn the week prior to each participant’s menstrual cycle and analyzed for hematological indices. Measures included white blood cells, red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, red cell diameter width, total protein, albumin, triglyceride, cholesterol, HDL, LDL, total cholesterol/HDL ratio, serum iron, serum ferritin, and total iron binding capacity (TIBC). Transferrin saturation was also assessed.

2.6. Statistical Analysis

The statistical analysis was carried out using SAS for Windows Version 9.1. Results were considered significant at p ≤ 0.05. Results were given as means with standard deviations (SD), unless otherwise noted. Nonparametric techniques were used to avoid violations with normal distribution assumptions, due to varying distributions of the parameters and small sample size. For demographics and baseline characteristics, the MannWhitney Wilcoxon statistical test was used to assess any differences among subjects. For the analysis of selected nutrient and hematological parameters, the Spearman Rank Correlation statistical test for associations was used. Fisher’s Exact statistical test was used for associations between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. This included associations with the percent of vegetarians versus nonvegetarians meeting the Recommended Dietary Allowance and Estimated Average Requirement for iron intake, and various hematological cut-off values determining iron status.


3.1. Subject Characteristics and Demographics

Subject characteristic and demographic information from the initial questionnaire are summarized in Table 1. Undergraduate participants represented 17 different majors. Four non-vegetarians and three vegetarians either had a prior history of anemia or suspected that they may be anemic. The number of individuals who consumed meals from restaurants was similar between the two groups, with only one non-vegetarian eating in exclusively. The non-vegetarian participants were older in age at a mean

Table 1. Demographics of participants.

of 20.7 years compared to the vegetarians at a mean age of 19.7 years (p = 0.05). Height for the two groups was similar, with a mean height of 65.3 inches for both groups (p = 0.68). Weight and BMI for the vegetarians tended to be lower, albeit not significantly, compared to non-vegetarians. The BMIs were within the normal limits for both groups. Exercise patterns were similar among subjects.

3.2. Dietary Intake

Vegetarians tended to consume more dietary fiber, soluble fiber, and monounsaturated fat compared to nonvegetarians (Table 2). Non-vegetarians did consume more daily protein than vegetarians, 76.9 g per vs. 58.7 g, respectively (p = 0.01). They also tended to consume greater calories than vegetarians as evidenced by examining weight of food consumed, total calories, calories from fat, calories from saturated fat, fat intake, polyunsaturated fat, saturated fat, trans fatty acids, cholesterol, carbohydrates, total sugars, caffeine, and water consumption compared to vegetarians. There was no significant difference in iron consumption between groups. However, non-vegetarians tended to have higher iron intake than vegetarians, 16.8 mg compared to 14.8 mg, respectively. Nutrients known to influence iron bioavailability including vitamin C, calcium, and phosphorus tended to be higher in the non-vegetarian participants.  

3.3. Daily Reference Intake of Iron

The number of vegetarians and non-vegetarians meeting the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) were compared (Table 3). Based on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for iron in females aged 14 to 18, seven vegetarians (85.7%) were under the RDA and two (28.6%) fell below the EAR for iron intake. Based on the DRI for iron in females aged 19 to 30 years, 66.7% of vegetarians compared to 65% of non-vegetarians failed to meet the RDA. There were slightly more non-vegetarians at 10% compared to vegetarians at 8.3% not meeting the EAR for iron intake. Overall, fewer participants consumed below the Estimated Average Requirement compared to the Recommended Dietary Allowance.

Table 2. Selected daily nutrient intakes vegetarians and nonvegetarians.

Table 3. Iron intake compared to RDA.

3.4. Hematological Analysis

Baseline hematological parameters were compared among participants (Table 4). Vegetarians had significantly higher albumin (p = 0.02), mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) (p = 0.04), and high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) (p = 0.02) compared to non-vegetarians. The vegetarians also tended to have higher red cell distribution width (RDW) compared to the non-vegetarians, albeit statistically insignificant. The non-vegetarians had significantly higher hematocrit (p = 0.03), total protein (p = 0.02), low density lipoproteins cholesterol (LDL) (p = 0.03), and total cholesterol/HDL ratio (p = 0.002). Non-vegetarians tended to have higher white and red blood cell counts, hemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), triglycerides, and cholesterol compared to vegetarians, although these differences were

Table 4. Hematological values for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

not statistically significant. Iron status indicators revealed serum iron, serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, and total iron binding capacity to tend to be greater for non-vegetarians, however there was no significant difference between the two groups.

3.5. Serum Ferritin

Only 10.5% of vegetarians, compared to 25% of nonvegetarians were within the normal range of serum ferritin (Figure 1). When looking at cut off values for serum ferritin, a high percentage of vegetarians were in negative iron balance. A greater number of vegetarians had ferritin values of

3.6. Iron Balance

Serum ferritin, serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), and transferrin saturation levels for stage I, II, III, and IV negative iron balance are provided in Table 5. With respect to negative I iron balance, there was a significantly higher percentage of vegetarians (94.7%) with serum iron of

Note: An asterisk represents statistical significance between vegetarians and non-vegetarians for a single classification of serum iron levels.

Figure 1. Percentage of nonvegetarians and vegetarians with either normal serum ferritin levels or in stage I, II, III/IV of negative iron balance.

Table 5. Percentage of vegetarians and non-vegetarians with markers of poor iron status.

(65%) (p = 0.03). More vegetarians tended to have a transferrin saturation >60% and serum ferritin 360 µg/dL compared to non-vegetarians. For negative III iron balance, there were a higher percentage of vegetarians with serum iron 390 µg/dL compared to non-vegetarians. Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians displayed signs of being in stage IV. Among vegetarians 21.1% had a serum iron value 410 µg/dL while only 10% of non-vegetarians had a serum iron 410 µg/dL. Comparisons of the percentage of vegetarians and non-vegetarians in negative II, III, and IV iron balance were not significantly different.


Given that young people often adopt a vegetarian lifestyle out of health, ethical, religious or environmental concerns, it is not surprising that such individuals show a stronger dietary profile than non-vegetarians. College women who ate an exclusively plant based diet consumed more monounsaturated fat, fewer calories from fat, less cholesterol, less sugar and less caffeine than nonvegetarians. These findings are consistent with other studies of dietary patterns of male and female vegetarians [7]. Of interest in our study was the elevated consumption of total dietary fiber and soluble fiber among vegetarians. This poses a concern due the inhibiting effects fiber has on iron absorption [8,9].  

Although not statistically significant, vegetarians tended to consume less iron than omnivores. Our findings are consistent with most others noting no significant difference in iron intake among vegetarians and omnivores [10-12]. Yet, other findings have revealed a greater iron intake among vegetarians [7]. Part of this discrepancy may be attributable to iron food fortification. Worth noting is that since vegetarians often consume non-heme iron sources, they are susceptible to encountering bioavailability problems. Thus, iron intake is unlikely be directly correlated with iron status. In the case of this study, an assumption can be made that iron status may actually be poorer than the dietary intake would suggest.  

In a study conducted in Taiwan, a typically non-iron fortifying country, Huang et al. [13] found non-vegetarians to have a significantly higher intake of iron and corresponding serum ferritin levels compared to vegetarians. The participants also used supplements which were recorded into the dietary intake and may have contributed to the higher ferritin levels. These results are contrary to those of Hadded et al. who investigated the iron status of vegans in Loma Linda, California [14]. In this case, the mean iron intake and serum ferritin levels were the same among non-vegetarian and vegan women [14]. Supplement use by participants was recorded and possibly aided in the higher iron intake and serum ferritin levels of the vegan participants [14].  

When analyzing their dietary patterns, the participants on the vegetarian diet also consumed less protein and tended to have a lower intake of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and calories than non-vegetarians. While the amount of protein consumed daily was significantly lower in vegetarians (58.7 g) compared to non-vegetarians (76.9 g), this was still well above the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 46 grams per day [6]. Calcium and phosphorus are both known inhibitors of iron absorption [12] but were not affecting iron status in our subjects given the low intake of both minerals among vegetarians (903.4 mg and 662.8 mg, respectively). These levels fell short of the RDAs of 1,000 mg calcium and 700 mg phosphorous per day, for females aged 19 to 50 years [16]. The discrepancy in calorie intake among subject groups may be reflective of women opting to be vegetarian as a means to weight loss. With respect to iron status and dietary intake, our findings show a positive association between iron intake, vitamin C intake and serum iron levels. Consistent with the literature and evidence of the enhancing effects of vitamin C on iron bioavailability, both iron and vitamin C intakes were negatively associated with total iron binding capacity [10].  

Upon evaluation of hematological parameters, the data showed that vegetarians had stronger lipid profiles than non-vegetarians as evidenced by lower triglycerides, cholesterol, LDL, total cholesterol/HDL ratio, and higher HDL. These values which are closely tied to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, are in accordance with other findings of lower mortality for ischemic heart disease in this population [17]. With respect to RDW, taking into account the standard deviation, some individual vegetarians could have had a RDW of approximately 14.7; a value greater than the often used upper/abnormal cut-off of 14%. Thus, this would seem to indicate that at least a few of the vegetarians have an abnormal red blood cell size distribution, raising the question of whether this is reflective of the first signs of microcytic cells. Since serum ferritin is an optimal marker of iron status [9,18-20], we were intrigued by the data showing only 10.5% of the vegetarians versus 25% of non-vegetarians to be within normal limits for serum ferritin. Similar to other research findings, there were no significant differences between serum ferritin and iron intake [21-22]. In fact, there was a positive correlation between iron intake and serum ferritin levels. As serum ferritin decreased total iron binding capacity increased. Vegetarians also tended to have lower serum iron, total iron binding capacity and transferrin saturation, albeit not statistically significant. Of greatest interest was the finding that 21% of vegetarians and 15% of non-vegetarians were in stage IV negative iron balance. This difference was not statistically significant, yet is noteworthy given that stage IV directly precedes iron deficiency anemia. It appears that college age women are at risk for stage IV negative iron balance and potentially iron deficiency anemia, irrespective of whether or not they are vegetarian.

Typically, hemoglobin status is positively correlated with iron intake [23]. This was not evident in our study and may be due to our sample size. However, studies of vegetarians typically show no indication of suboptimal hemoglobin, hematocrit, serum iron, total iron binding capacity or transferrin saturation when compared to nonvegetarians [10-12]. The lack of correlation between dietary iron intake and serum iron may also be attributable to diurnal fluctuations [19].

Menstrual blood loss can also be a contributing factor to the low iron status in women [24,25] We attempted to eliminate this as a casual factor by scheduling participant blood draws approximately one week prior to the subject’s menses cycle. However, irregular menstrual cycles were a concern for 25% of non-vegetarians and 26% of vegetarians, with one being amenorrheic. Based on hematological indicators of iron status we can conclude that female college students may be at increased risk for developing iron deficiency anemia.  


This research was sponsored by Faculty Development and Faculty Support grants from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA.


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90,000 Hazardous diet. Are vegetarians at risk of iron, protein and vitamin deficiencies | Proper nutrition | Health

The body of a vegetarian loses very important components of metabolism – this was known before. But now it turns out that the picture of the vegetarian deficit is even paler than was commonly believed.

Iron is not the most important deficiency in the body of a vegetarian, but I want to start with it, because it is around the lack of iron that there is a lot of controversy and controversy.

Iron . Iron deficiency anemia is a fairly common occurrence in the blood of vegetarians. Although they, of course, do not admit this. And they are trying in every possible way to eat iron with plant foods. However, this is very difficult to do.

Moreover, the deeper scientific medicine develops, the more wood it throws into the funeral pyre. In happy times of ignorance, it was believed that iron is not necessary to eat up with meat, you can provide the body with it, for example, with the help of the iron-containing (and a lot!) Famous Russian Antonovka or buckwheat groats.

In the future, happiness was overshadowed by the results of studies, which found that plant iron is absorbed in the body much worse than the animal. Even the indices of assimilation were taken out – no more than 20% of the iron of plants will be taken for metabolism.

Now the situation has become even more aggravated, because now science claims that 20% is the maximum, which is actually more theoretical than practical. In fact, plant iron is absorbed even less than previously thought.They even calculated the true values ​​for different products. For example:

Cereals and bread – the maximum absorption of iron is 5%, in fact, no more than 3%.

Legumes – not 5%, but only 2-3%.

Vegetables and fruits – up to 10% maximum, but in fact 3-4%.

Rice and spinach I would like to mention separately – only 1% (!) Of iron will be absorbed by the body from them.

In fairness, it is worth mentioning the actual numbers of assimilation of animal-fish-egg iron:

Milk and eggs add the least amount of iron to the metabolism – 2-3%, and not 5%, as it was supposed.

Fish – 9-11%, not 15%.

Liver – 12-16%, not 20%.

Veal – 22%, not 30%, as was previously thought about all types of meat.

As you can see, not only for true vegetarians, but also for “ovo” and “lacto” supporters of the anti-meat diet, the news is disappointing. Eggs and dairy products give them iron no more than plants!

Proteins . With these, everything is clear and understandable, there are no disputes and misunderstandings. Everything is the same as before. 12 amino acids (building blocks of protein) are synthesized by the body itself, and 8 are considered essential, they must enter the body with food.And they come, and not only from meat, but also from plants.

However, in this matter, it is not the quantity that is more important, but the ratio. Ideal for the body will be those proteins in which the ratio of amino acids is close to physiological needs. I will say right away – there are no proteins ideal for the human body. But there are those who are as close as possible to them. And these are proteins of meat, eggs and milk. In plants, the amino acid ratios do not match the human aminogram too much. This means that the body will have to correct the “formula” – add what is missing, subtract the excess.The result is clear – extra work, extra stress for the body.

Calcium . Experts note a lack of calcium in true vegetarians. When this element is mentioned in the view, everyone gets a picture of teeth and bones.

Indeed, 99% of calcium is found in bones. However, the greatest harm is caused to true vegetarians by the remaining 1% of this substance, which the body uses for other purposes.

For example, calcium regulates the process of excitability of the nervous system – that’s what we forget.According to the aggressive reaction of vegetarians to any criticism, even positive, one can assume with a very high degree of probability a lack of calcium in the body.

Vitamin B-12 . It is found only in animal products. It is not present in plants. Deficiency of this vitamin leads to a very serious illness – anemia. However, for a vegetarian, this is not a very big problem, since we have this vitamin in a synthesized form. It is enough just not to forget to take it periodically.

Unlike true vegetarians, supporters of diets with the prefixes “lacto” and “ovo” do not have such a serious deficiency of substances important for metabolism. If, of course, they make up the right diet.

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Info Field »Hemoglobin and Veganism

March 12, 2021

One of the problems people who become vegans may face is anemia.The condition occurs when the body lacks iron. They are rich in meat products and if they are abandoned, there is a risk of getting a deficiency of this microelement and low hemoglobin.

What is hemoglobin

Hemoglobin is a protein that is produced in our body. It is found in those very red blood cells – erythrocytes. With its help, they deliver oxygen to the cells of the body. For the production of red blood cells, iron is primarily needed. Also, the body needs a substance such as folic acid and vitamin B12.We get all this from food. With a shortage of these elements, the level of hemoglobin in the blood decreases, and interruptions in the supply of oxygen to the tissues begin. The so-called oxygen starvation sets in, anemia develops.

By the way, not only vegetarianism can lead to anemia. It can also be caused by problems with the absorption of iron. This is facilitated by various inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, for example, gastritis.

Signs of anemia

There are a number of signs that indicate the development of anemia.When switching to plant foods, you should monitor your health and pay attention to the following symptoms, which may indicate a low level of hemoglobin:

  • constant fatigue and weakness in the morning, rapid fatigue;
  • dizziness; 90,083
  • shortness of breath;
  • pale face and bruises under the eyes;
  • cracks in the corners of the mouth;
  • herpes;
  • profuse hair loss.

In addition to a general decline in strength, anemia can lead to the development of a number of diseases.First, immunity suffers. And these are frequent colds and exacerbation of chronic infections. In addition, problems await in the sexual sphere – libido decreases. And it is more difficult for women to get pregnant and bear a child.

It should be noted that the symptoms listed above are typical for other diseases. To know for sure how things are with hemoglobin, you need to take a general blood test. If hemoglobin is below 125 g / l, this is a signal that it is time to take care of your health. You can also find out if there is an iron deficiency by checking your ferritin levels.It should be at least 50 mcg / l. As for the iron itself, its level in the blood should be at least 15 μmol / l. If the level is lower, this may indicate the development of anemia. Finally, it doesn’t hurt to find out what your vitamin B12 level is. If it is below 500 pg / ml, then it’s time to add vitamin supplements. The prophylactic norm of vitamin B12 for adults is 250 mcg per day.

What to do if hemoglobin is low

Food supplements are, of course, needed. But this is a temporary measure. Very often people suffering from anemia are faced with the fact that some time after a course of taking iron and vitamin B12, weakness returns again.This means that you need to reconsider your diet.

As we mentioned, vegans often develop anemia after avoiding iron-rich animal products. However, this does not mean that you need to re-eat red meat. Iron is also found in plant foods. The main thing is that the diet is balanced. Then iron deficiency can be avoided.

First, it should contain a lot of iron-rich foods. These are whole grains, legumes. Also, do not forget about the dark leafy greens.Legumes, greens and cereals are what should be on your plate every day. And not just for breakfast or dinner, but in each of the three main meals. There are also foods that promote better iron absorption. This is, for example, cabbage. And any of its types are suitable. Good in this regard and spices – anise, thyme, mint, cinnamon. Vitamins of group B and vitamin C also contribute to the absorption of iron – lean on citrus fruits, rose hips, seeds and nuts.

Secondly, it is worth abandoning semi-finished products, leaving whole foods in the diet.The sausage, although vegan, is still a sausage. It contains few microelements necessary for the body.

Third, give up coffee. Or, reduce the number of cups. This drink has been shown to reduce the absorption of iron. The same goes for tea.

With a well-designed balanced menu and vitamin courses, anemia will not cause problems for a vegan.

90,000 We eat grass and suffer from anemia: Why not eating meat is normal and how to respond to those who think otherwise

Vegetarianism is a direction in nutrition in which people refuse to eat meat and food of animal origin.In recent years, this trend has been supported by such world stars as Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley and Jared Leto. And a UN study has confirmed that vegetarianism can help fight climate change.

We decided to ask the stupidest questions to a vegetarian with more than 10 years of experience and get comprehensive answers. And also talk about what it is like not to eat meat in a country that ranks second in terms of meat consumption in the CIS countries.

How did you come to this?

At the age of 7–8, she refused to eat meat because she saw a ram sacrifice on Kurban Ait.After that, the desire to eat meat and sausage disappeared. Over the years, my vegetarian lifestyle “escalated” and I eliminated fish and chicken from the diet, as well as pure eggs and cheese.

We have it in our genes

And my grandfather smoked and died of lung cancer. But this does not mean that the same is waiting for me. Each organism is an individual combination of genes, and the thinking and decisions that a person makes come from him personally, and not from the pressure of society or imposed standards.

It’s expensive

In 90% of cases, I cook at home, buy oatmeal, try different goodies every day, from vegetable casserole to celery and pumpkin puree soup. It’s satisfying, healthy, and a lot cheaper.

A habit is formed not to save on quality food and to consume only pure and organic products for food, which means it helps to save on the healthcare sector in the future.

Is it okay if I eat meat in front of you?

Vegetarianism is not a diet, you choose it consciously and for life (or for any long period of time).So, not a single vegetarian is tempted to break off.

Sometimes it resembles a situation with people with poor vision. When they are approached and asked how many fingers they show. “That’s how? And if I leave. Do you see here? ”

What about protein?

Vegetarians get it in the same way as meat eaters. Only the latter are obtained from animal meat, and vegetarians – from plant products that animals eat.

You must have pale skin, anemia or hair falling out

With a properly designed menu, there will be no shortage of food of animal origin.And in general, this applies not only to vegetarianism. For those looking to eat healthily, you need to know that in winter it is worth compiling a different menu, with an emphasis on fats, saturated proteins and complex carbohydrates. Spring – cleanse and stock up on vitamins with green smoothies and vegetables. And in the summer, include more greens and fruits in your diet.

If you systematically eat incorrectly, then when you try to cram protein into itself at one time, the body will resist, because an excess of something is as bad as a deficiency.

Protein ceases to be absorbed normally, which means that the processes in the body lead to brittle nails, hair loss, and a general decrease in skin tone.

Anemia is equally common among vegetarians and meat-eaters. There is no big gap, because the foods that vegetarians eat are richer in iron than meat.

What about visiting?

When meeting in a narrow circle of friends and acquaintances, I cook myself or warn that I will not eat meat dishes.If this is an official meeting, I choose the most suitable from the proposed. Talking about your eating habits at every corner is not worth it. These are the basics of etiquette. The person inviting you to an event does not have to consider the food preferences of everyone who comes.

What about loved ones?

I am lucky with a family that is ready to make all my decisions. While I was younger, difficulties arose, because my mother tried in every possible way to force me to eat meat under any pretext.But when I started cooking myself, I got the idea to take traditional Kazakh cuisine as a basis, but make it vegetarian.

Now everything has become much easier, because two years ago the whole family switched to PP. Yeast products, soda and other unhealthy foods are completely gone from the diet. In terms of seasonings, they left rosemary, cumin, and reduced the use of salt and sugar to a minimum.

The situation is heating up at my grandmother’s table, but I have developed my own life hack. I take the initiative into my own hands.I put on the food that suits me and eat it slowly. This will eliminate the questions of why you are not eating and whether you need a supplement.

You are all crazy hipsters

And I have met such people. They wash themselves with secondary water and feed only on air and chakra energy. But these are the exceptions, not the rule. As in any field, if you take yourself to extremes, you can come to the absolute point of absurdity.

This won’t help the animals!

I don’t consider myself an animal rights activist.But I am of the opinion that vegetarianism helps to remind the importance of animals in the human world. Demand creates supply. Perhaps if there are more vegetarian communities in the world, the production and raising of animals in slaughterhouses will decrease.

Don’t you eat anything at all?

Vegetarianism has various forms.

For example, vegans are those who have completely given up eating animal products, do not wear clothes made of natural leather and fur, do not buy cosmetics that are tested on animals.

There are pseudo-vegetarians who believe that fish or chicken is not meat. But the point is that you can’t eat what you had to kill. This fish or chicken is a secondary matter.

There is a raw food diet when cooked foods are not eaten.

There are vegetarians who do not eat meat, but use other products of animal origin, for example, cheese, honey, eggs.

There are those who eat only fruits and vegetables .There are a lot of trends in vegetarianism and everyone can find a suitable one.

You will also keep children from hand to mouth

I have no children yet, so I have no answer to the question of what kind of nutrition to instill in my children. But YouTube blogger and part-time mother of two children, Alexandra Anderson, talks about how they eat and what are the advantages of being a vegetarian since childhood.

What if I accidentally put some meat on you?

I will not turn into a toad, the patron saint of vegetarians, or start to turn blue.It will be disgusting not to eat meat, but to understand that the people with whom you communicate do not respect you and your decisions. It is the same if you feed pork to a Muslim and beef to a Hindu.

We cannot go to a cafe because he (s) does not eat meat

Rice, water or salad can be found in the standard menu of any cafe. So feel free to grab your friend and go to the new restaurant. Eating habits should not steal a good evening from you, but, on the contrary, complement it.

How does it feel to be a vegetarian in Kazakhstan?

For all the time I have never encountered any condemnation or dissatisfaction with my eating habits.In establishments, they are happy to make me a burger without meat, and the waiters are ready to name the composition of the salad.

There is still a prejudice about vegetarianism in the country, but it only persists in the minds of the people. In fact, when someone finds out that I have not been using for so long, people wonder how it affected me and my lifestyle. Many acquaintances are happy to try something new in their lives, while others see this as an opportunity to help the world on their own.

Important! Before switching to any food that is new for you, make sure that it is suitable for your body.To do this, consult with nutritionists, watch films or videos, read a couple of articles.

90,000 Vegetarian anemia 9,0001


It’s no secret that the peculiarities of our lifestyle have an impact on our health. Food is the only constant source of all the nutrients a person needs.

Therefore, the peculiarities of the diet directly determine the metabolism in the body.The concept of a complete diet for people who are not related to medicine is extremely vague.

Of great importance are the prevailing stereotypes of nutrition, which include many factors – family habits, religious restrictions, national and other characteristics.

For some, simply the absence of hunger is a criterion for a full-fledged diet, while others make a scrupulous daily calculation of the energy value of the foods consumed, all nutrients, vitamins and microelements.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional condition, with more than 2 billion people worldwide suffering from it. In the absence of deficiency replenishment, hemoglobin decreases and anemia develops.

The causes of iron deficiency are varied and often complex, but in general, they reflect either insufficient intake of iron in the body with food, or excessive loss of iron.

Quite often there can be several reasons at once.

The most common options for inadequate intake of iron in the body are a vegetarian diet, lack of appetite, and gastrointestinal pathology that does not allow the absorption of the required amount of trace elements.

Excessive consumption is primarily associated with blood loss. Conditions that increase the need for iron include pregnancy and a period of active growth. On average, a regular diet provides the body with 10-15 mg of iron per day.

But if the diet for some reason is poor in iron, then even an absolutely healthy person will gradually develop iron deficiency anemia. When giving up meat, be sure to remember that meat (first of all, beef) is the main source of iron for humans.

And, in addition to iron, meat also contains many other substances we need.

Accordingly, it is extremely important, in order to prevent metabolic disturbances, to compensate for the missing meat with other products that can provide a comparable amount of necessary substances, if possible in combination with vitamin C, which significantly increases absorption.

And also do not forget that pomegranates and apples with buckwheat alone will not replenish even the minimum iron deficiency.

This is not an easy task and it is better to solve it with nutritionists, systematically calculating all replacement options.

Iron is best absorbed from meat and liver. Of the other products, it is worse.

How do you know that you have not calculated?

There is a glycoprotein called ferritin, which, outside the inflammatory process, clearly reflects the body’s iron stores (as a nonspecific marker of inflammation, ferritin rises in response to the inflammatory process).But this is the first and main indicator that decreases with a lack of iron.

Anemia in history, multiple births (3 or more), less than 1 year interval after a previous pregnancy, age under 20 years, recent history of bleeding, high risk of bleeding increase the likelihood of iron deficiency and require monitoring.

Treatment for confirmation of iron deficiency depends on the severity of the anemia and the presence of concomitant changes. With iron deficiency without anemia or with a minimal decrease in hemoglobin, the prescription of modern drugs such as Sideral Forte is optimal.

In case of mild anemia (hemoglobin more than 90 g / l), therapy with iron preparations taken orally with an optimal balance of efficacy and safety is indicated in order to prevent the development of complications. For more severe forms, drugs can be given intravenously.

Thus, a well-designed diet allows people with different dietary habits to prevent the development of iron deficiency anemia.

Given the fact that vegetarians are in a special risk group, control should be carried out more closely and with minimal manifestations of iron deficiency, it is necessary to begin to compensate it with medication.


Vinogradova Maria Alekseevna, doctor-hematologist, head of the department of reproductive hematology and clinical hemostasiology of the N.N. acad. V. I. Kulakova, Ph.D.


Other news in this section:

90,000 Why fans of chicken breasts may be at risk of iron deficiency anemia

Rospotrebnadzor experts told which meat is more beneficial for health and why.

Eating meat is not a vice

In the modern world, despite all the achievements of science, there is still no consensus regarding the benefits of meat and meat products. Some people believe that the protein contained in meat is very useful for strengthening and proper muscle growth, while others believe that meat poisons the body.

And as for the size of the portion, which will be useful to eat every day, there is no consensus at all: some citizens prefer portions of the size of their fist, others allow themselves only 100 grams per week.

On this score, Rospotrebnadzor experts advise you to listen to your own needs and desires, as well as consult with your doctor.

However, according to the head of the sanitary supervision department of Rospotrebnadzor Irina Shevkun , it will be beneficial for an ordinary person to eat meat or meat products 1-2 times a week and that the serving size is no more than 148 grams.

Who needs to eat meat?

– Red meat and liver are necessary for people with anemia because the iron they contain is the best absorbed.It is no coincidence, by the way, that anemia is often observed in vegetarians, says Shevkun.

The expert also argues that the advice of some nutritionists about “full replacement of animal protein with vegetable” is not worth listening to. This replacement option is not suitable for every person. Moreover, one must understand that it is animal, and not vegetable, protein that is the main structural element of all tissues of the human body.

“The presence of animal protein in the diet of children, as well as pregnant and lactating women, is especially important, since it serves as a building material,” the expert adds.

So what is the healthiest meat?

Beef is traditionally considered dietary meat and is recommended for people with weakened immune systems. And especially with anemia.

Lean meat normalizes stomach acidity, is quickly digested and easily absorbed. The main thing is to cook it correctly: bake it in a special bag.

Lamb is a fatty meat that can harm the health of the elderly and those with gastrointestinal problems.All other lovers of this meat can eat it without fear: modern nutritionists claim that it is low in calories and 30% less cholesterol than in pork.

Pork – meat is more fatty than beef and lamb, but it also has many valuable properties. It is good for digestion, as it contains vitamins that prevent the development of colitis, diarrhea, intestinal atony (constipation). Lovers of this meat are less likely to suffer from insomnia and are less prone to depression and stress.

Poultry meat is considered dietary. However, before starting a “bird” diet, you should know that there is practically no iron in chicken meat. Therefore, one of the undesirable consequences of such a diet can be anemia, writes the portal “Healthy Nutrition”. 90,000 How to raise hemoglobin for a vegetarian: treatment and prevention of anemia. How to raise hemoglobin for a vegetarian: basic methods

By nature, humans are omnivorous. But some groups of people, for religious beliefs, attitudes or medical reasons, refuse to eat animal products.They are vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists. Avoiding these foods can lead to anemia. How to raise hemoglobin without meat, what methods will bring the desired effect and get rid of the problem?

Hemoglobin in vegetarians

The body receives most of the iron from meat products, fish and eggs. Some vegetarians do not have an impact on their health. Many of them have low hemoglobin levels – but if a person feels well, then this may be his norm. A deviation of less than 5 g / l is not considered dangerous.A serious decrease in the rate in vegetarians, as in other people, can be caused by:

  • Sharp rejection of meat products;
  • Iron deficiency;
  • Lack of vitamin B12;
  • Lack of folic acid;
  • Disorders of the digestive tract;
  • Pathologies of the hematopoietic system;
  • Chronic bleeding;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Serious diseases of internal organs (oncology).

Vegetarians have a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia than people who eat meat. Such a diet is especially dangerous for children, pregnant and lactating women, athletes and donors – these people need an increased intake of iron from food. Herbal products are unable to meet this need, and anemia develops. Most vegetarian diets will argue that plant foods are also rich in iron. This is actually the case, but it is important to consider how this microelement behaves in the human body.

Assimilation of iron from food:

Product type % assimilation
Animal origin up to 30%
Vegetable not more than 5%

There is a lot of iron in buckwheat, it is it that “knowledgeable people” most often recommend to use for anemia.But how to raise hemoglobin with buckwheat? Every day, a man’s body should receive 10 mg of iron, a woman – 15 mg. To get a daily intake of iron, a man needs to eat 1 kg of buckwheat, and a woman 1.5 kg of buckwheat is a lot. And if the mechanisms of absorption and assimilation are disturbed in the body, even more so. How to raise hemoglobin for a vegetarian, maintain a normal reading and not break a diet?

Prevention of anemia in vegetarians: vitamins and diet

If you decide to give up meat products, then it is better to prevent the occurrence of iron deficiency and, as a consequence, anemia.It is important to properly plan your diet so that iron-rich foods are present daily.

A universal recipe on how to raise hemoglobin for a vegetarian at home, suitable for both vegans and raw foodists, whose diet is even stricter – the use of freshly squeezed juices from vegetables (beetroot, carrot), berries and fruits (mainly red, for example, currants, grenade).

How to raise hemoglobin with beets? If anemia has already been diagnosed, then – no way, the prescription is suitable if the decrease is insignificant or to maintain a normal blood composition.Preparation: Take equal proportions of carrots, beets and apples. Squeeze the juice out of them, you should get about 500 ml. You need to drink the mixture on an empty stomach. Vegetarians can eat a drink with a spoonful of sour cream – fats promote the absorption of carotene. There are also recipes on how to raise hemoglobin with beets: you can simply grate it on a fine grater and add it to vegetable salads and soups.

Vegetarians can eat eggs, they are also high in iron. Since a vegan cannot raise hemoglobin with eggs for reasons of conviction, he needs to eat more greens: spinach, parsley, nettle, lettuce.

How to raise hemoglobin during a diet: introduce dietary types of meat into the diet – rabbit, chicken breast, turkey. People who follow a vegetarian diet for medical reasons can sometimes indulge in meat products.

Since it is almost impossible to raise low hemoglobin with buckwheat, it can be used to maintain a normal level of the indicator. Recipe: grind buckwheat in a coffee grinder and use one spoonful of powder diluted with warm water daily.

Another way to increase hemoglobin for a vegetarian is to take complex vitamins with a high iron content. But this, like diet therapy, is not a method of treatment, but prevention of a decrease in the indicator, in case of insufficient intake of iron from food. Please note that vitamins contain at least 10 mg of iron. B vitamins, vitamin C and copper will improve the effect.

How to raise hemoglobin in a vegetarian with iron preparations

If the hemoglobin count has dropped significantly below the permissible norm (more than 5 g / l), treatment is necessary.In such a situation, vitamins and the right food will not have the desired effect, and the use of meat products will not help either.

Experts have proven that diet therapy is able to cover the body’s daily need for iron and maintain a normal level of hemoglobin in the blood, but does not lead to the accumulation of the necessary iron stores. And it should be present in the body constantly, in the amount of 4 grams. Considering that iron is quickly consumed, it is impossible to make up for its deficiency with a diet.

Treatment of mild anemia (hemoglobin 100-120 g / l) and moderate (80-100 g / l) is performed by taking iron preparations.This is the only way to raise hemoglobin without meat and any other food.

Interesting fact. How to raise hemoglobin in a dog? Animals can also be given iron supplements and special vitamin complexes with iron content.

It is important to choose the right drugs. Ferric medications cause side effects that are difficult for many patients and in some cases even refuse to continue treatment.Iron in this form is poorly absorbed in the body and forms harmful free radicals.

It is better to treat anemia with ferrous iron preparations. It is in this form that it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and is part of the hemoglobin in the bone marrow. It allows you to raise the level of lowered hemoglobin to normal without harm to the body.

Bivalent iron in the heme form is contained in the Gemobin preparation. The best assimilation of Gemobin in comparison with other drugs is provided by:

  • The presence of vitamin C in the composition, which promotes the absorption of iron;
  • Similar structure of the drug molecules with human hemoglobin;
  • Naturalness of the components, so the body absorbs the drug, and does not reject, like inorganic iron from other drugs.Thanks to this, there are no side effects;
  • Iron in bivalent form, which does not form free radicals that accelerate cell aging.

Hemobin allows you to use a smaller daily dose of iron, due to the fact that it is absorbed almost in full. In 1 tablet there is only 0.4 mg, in other preparations the iron content in 1 tablet is from 10 to 100 mg, of which only a small part is absorbed.

In the course of trials of Gemobin in several Russian scientific institutes at once, it was confirmed that its use is for patients without complications and side effects.It is allowed even for toddlers. Hemobin is suitable for the treatment of anemia of varying severity, as well as for the prevention of iron deficiency in people at risk, including vegetarians.

How to raise low hemoglobin? – GO VEG! Vegetarianism as a way of life.

Are you a vegetarian?

Then you have probably heard more than once the complaints of compassionate acquaintances, and even caring family members, about your ruined health. One of the common myths about vegetarian diets is the threat of anemia.Most people believe that hemoglobin can be raised only by introducing more red meat and liver into the diet, which means that vegetarians do not have to dream of normal hemoglobin. Let’s see how things really are!
Iron deficiency anemia is a condition in which the amount of hemoglobin and red blood cells in the blood decreases. The symptoms of anemia are far from the most pleasant – constant weakness and drowsiness, decreased performance, in advanced cases, dizziness and even fainting may occur.Appearance also inevitably suffers from a lack of hemoglobin – teeth deteriorate, nails become brittle, hair grows dull and grows poorly, skin dries.

Please note that all of the above symptoms are not only related to anemia, so you cannot diagnose yourself based on them! The hemoglobin level can only be found out by passing laboratory tests. Normal hemoglobin counts are easy to find online and vary widely by gender and age.If you passed the test and it showed an average, and especially severe degree of anemia, then you should not neglect the pharmaceutical preparations, you cannot raise too low hemoglobin with food alone. But, even taking iron supplements, you cannot do without proper nutrition. But a mild degree can be overcome simply by wisely planning your diet. And here meat eaters have no advantages over vegetarians!

Although iron from animal products is absorbed better by the body, the list of its plant sources is much wider.Vegetarian foods that can raise hemoglobin are widely available and varied. Among cereals, buckwheat is in the lead, beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal and oatmeal are also rich in iron. Vegetables and greens are also rich in iron – beets, carrots, pumpkin, dill and parsley, green vegetables, spinach, potatoes (in order to raise hemoglobin, it is best to bake it in a peel). Seaweed must be in your diet, it is better to buy it dry and cook it yourself, because ready-made salads often contain chemical additives.Fruit juices – pomegranate, apple , just not packaged from the supermarket, but freshly squeezed!

It is good to make mixed juice from beets and apples, take 1/5 of beetroot, the rest is apple, and always fresh . Berries are also able to quickly raise the level of iron in the blood, the most useful for anemia are black currant , and another cranberry and blueberry . They are especially valuable because they contain vitamin C, which is necessary for the normal absorption of iron.Therefore, in your attempts to raise hemoglobin, do not forget about it – rose hips, sea buckthorn, honeysuckle are rich in vitamin C. By the way, coffee and tea, on the contrary, prevent the absorption of iron, drink more herbal infusions and juices.

One of the ways to quickly raise hemoglobin is green buckwheat . You can cook very healthy and tasty raw food cereals from it. Rinse a glass of buckwheat and fill with 2.5-3 glasses of drinking water, leave for two hours. After that, drain the water and evenly distribute the wet buckwheat on the plate. Within a day you will see small sprouts, and in two days they will already reach a length of about a centimeter! You can eat it in any condition, both slightly swollen and with good sprouts, you can add it to salads and smoothies. If you do not like its taste, you can grind dry buckwheat into powder and eat a tablespoon three times a day with water.