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Vegetarian foods for anemia: Top 10 High Iron Foods for Vegetarians and Vegans


Iron for Vegetarians & Vegans

Written by Matt Ruscigno • Last Updated: March 12, 2021

This is a guest post by Matt Ruscigno, who writes the blog True Love Health.

True or False: The iron that our bodies require is the same element found in a cast-iron skillet.

This is a real true or false question on my college exam, and it fools a surprising number of my students. Iron is greatly misunderstood as a nutrient, especially when it comes to vegetarian and vegan diets and by those trying to adopt a plant-based diet.

The mineral is found all over the earth and is essential to red blood cells transporting oxygen and nutrients to every cell in our body, connecting us directly to the land we live on. Pretty amazing, right?

But iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in North America, with symptoms including fatigue, pale skin, weakness and inability to maintain body temperature. And as vegetarians and vegans, we should be paying attention to more than just protein.

When it comes to iron (and especially iron for women), vegans should pay special attention to make sure we’re getting enough — and, along with vitamin b12 and a handful of other hard-to-get nutrients (like the ones featured in Complement Plus), may be one of the important supplements for vegans to consider.

So how much iron do we actually need?

Recently in the U.S., the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) gave new recommendations for iron, specifically for vegetarians, that are 1.8 times higher than the general population. As my colleague Jack Norris points out, this increase is not based on actual research on vegetarians, but simply because the iron in plant foods is not as easily absorbed as the iron in animal products (more on this in just a minute).

As a result, many experts in vegetarian nutrition believe that these recommendations are much higher than needed.

My take on it: if you eat a varied, healthy plant-based diet that includes a balance of grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables — and follow the recommendations below — I don’t believe it is necessary to keep close track of iron intake.

Iron from plants vs. iron from animals

To better understand what we need to do to ensure our bodies are getting enough iron, we first have to accept two facts about iron — painful as they are for vegetarians and vegans to hear:

  1. There are two types of iron — heme, which is found in animal foods, and non-heme, which is from plants. It is true that heme iron (the kind from animals) is better absorbed than non-heme iron.
  2. Vegetarians and vegans may have lower iron stores than omnivores.

But don’t fret your vegetarian brain over these issues. We’ll see that in fact it’s not all that difficult to get the iron you need on a plant-based diet.

As for #2, it’s important to note that while vegetarians have lower stores of iron than omnivores, they do not have higher rates of anemia. In the research, many vegetarians’ stores are “low-normal,” but this does not mean less than ideal! Actually, there’s some evidence that says low-normal iron stores are beneficial: improved insulin function and lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

How to get enough iron on a plant-based diet

You can start by making sure that you’re eating foods that contain substantial amounts of iron. Some of the best plant sources of iron include:

  • Legumes: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans
  • Grains: quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal
  • Nuts and seeds: pumpkin, squash, pine, pistacio, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame
  • Vegetables: tomato sauce, swiss chard, collard greens,
  • Other: blackstrap molasses, prune juice

But here’s the key: It’s not how much iron you consume, but how well you absorb it.

So paying attention to make sure you’re absorbing your iron is just as important as making sure you’re taking in enough. And fortunately there is a lot you can do to increase the absorption of non-heme iron!

5 ways vegetarians and vegans can absorb more iron

1. The less you eat, the better it is absorbed.

Seriously! I know people who take one 15 milligram pill a day and think they are covered, but it doesn’t work that way. When consuming higher amounts of iron at one time, the percentage that our bodies absorb is actually lower than when your meal contains only a few milligrams. Plant-based foods may contain less iron than animal foods, but eating smaller amounts throughout the day is a great way to increase absorption.

2. Eat non-heme iron foods with vitamin C foods, and absorption can increase as much as five times.

Five times! Culturally these combinations are already happening: think beans and rice with salsa, falafel with tomatoes and hummus with lemon juice. The iron in beans, grains and seeds is better absorbed when combined with the vitamin-C found in fruits and vegetables. Bonus: some iron sources, like leafy greens, broccoli, and tomato sauce already contain vitamin-C.

3. Avoid coffee and tea when eating high-iron meals.

Coffee (even decaf!) and tea contain tannins that inhibit iron absorption. I recommend avoiding them an hour before or two hours after your meal.

4. Cast-iron skillets increase iron absorption.

The answer to the true or false question is true! Cooking with an old school cast-iron skillet increases the iron in your meal — especially when you cook a vitamin-C containing food in it.

Even better, a cast-iron skillet purchase puts you in the realm of official serious cook. I bought mine almost 10 years ago for $8 and it is one of my most valued possessions. (Yes, I’m that much of a food nerd that a skillet is one of my most valued possessions!)

5. It pains me to say this, but you may want to avoid spinach as an iron source.

Spinach contains oxalates that block absorption. Sucks, right? There is some disagreement in the research about this, but with all of those other iron-containing plant foods, why not try some new ones?

And for the record, even if you take an iron supplement, you should still follow the advice above. I recommend that if my clients take one, they break it in half and take half in the morning and half at night, always with meals or juice.

Iron doesn’t have to be a problem in a plant-based diet

Follow these principles, eating good sources of iron throughout the day and keeping up with the absorption principles above, and you’ll find that it’s not hard to get enough iron in your diet, even as a vegetarian or vegan.

All of that said, iron is one of the few nutrients where a deficiency both immediately affects your health and is detectable, so if you have any iron-deficiency symptoms I recommend getting blood work with your doctor. It is affordable, reliable and easy to interpret. And iron levels bounce back quickly when using the methods above or supplementation.

I’ll leave you with a fun fact about iron in plant-based diets (well, fun to a food nerd at least):

Some research shows that vegans have higher iron levels than vegetarians.


The difference between vegetarians and vegans is eggs and dairy products, and the latter contain almost no iron. When someone goes from vegetarian to vegan they are replacing dairy products with plant-based ones, all of which contain some iron, therefore increasing the total iron in the diet.

With this information and a little effort you can get all of the iron you need from plants to be a healthy and strong vegetarian!

Matthew Ruscigno, MPH, RD is a vegan of 15 years, Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Group of the American Dietetic Association and is an athlete that has completed iron-distance triathlons, solo 24-hr mountain bike races and ultra-runs. He writes at True Love Health and recently launched his Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes video series.

Written by Matt Frazier

I’m here with a message that, without a doubt, isn’t going to make me the most popular guy at the vegan potluck.

But it’s one I believe is absolutely critical to the long term health of our movement, and that’s why I’m committed to sharing it. Here goes…

Vegans need more than just B12.

Sure, Vitamin B12 might be the only supplement required by vegans in order to survive. But if you’re anything like me, you’re interested in much more than survival — you want to thrive.

So what else do vegans need?



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  • You are writing stuff that is false. Spinach (IF COOKED), contains a lot of iron. It is RAW spinach where the oxalate problem arises. If you are not going to be more careful with what you print, remove your site.

  • Just wanted to say I appreciate you putting this together. It’s great to have educational repositories like this one available for free. If anyone reading this is worried about going vegan and not having enough iron, I’m a regular blood donor and every time you donate they check your levels, so I am lucky to have a graph of my iron levels over time. In it I can see that after going vegan my iron actually didn’t change at all! It’s always been on the high end. Going vegan is super easy these days.

  • Also calcium and iron for now. Maybe iron long term.

  • Hi. Ive been vegan for 2 years, eating a predominately wholefoods plant based diet with occasional vegan junk food. I cut out dairy due allergy 5 years ago.
    I know some plant based drs say you dont need suppluments other than b12 after youve been eating plaNt based for 3 years (eg dr mcdougal) but after having multiple nutritional deficiciencies and being extremely sick for the last 5 months,
    Im now going to follow plant based drs who recommend that supplumenting certain things is necessary.

    Some Meat eaters also get deficiencies too and since im vegan for the animals ive put up with being unwell and have worked with doctors to figure out whats going on and how to get better. Vegan suppluments are healthier than animal products.

    Im a 39 year old mother of two. i have a bmi of 18. I ve never been so sick in my life. Ive had lethargy. Difficulty breathing and heart palpitations and headaches.
    I was taking b12 supplument 2 times a week . 1000 units of vitamin day. avoiding sun due to recent removal of melanoma. This wasnt enough . I was b12 deficient and it affected my blood, and low iron . Vitamin d low, calcium normal but on low end of normal, this caused secondary hyperparathyroidism.

    Ive had anamia as a meat eater due to heavy menstruation so i wont blame it on plant based diet but iron is harder to absorb on plant based diet so some woman may need to supplument.

    Id love to try complement plus as soon as i can save enough money to buy it sounds like the ideal vegan multivitamin. One supplament a day and your covered.

  • Hello I eat leafy greens 4times a week. I don’t eat red meat, pork, eggs, chicken or any dairy products. I do eat fish 2 times a week and going true menopause for 3 years now. I just been taking iron capsules 22mg for a week feeling strong then ever. My worry is I read I should only be taking 8 mg of iron us that true?

  • I would like to know more. Thank you also for the advice on the iron skillet too. The only thing with the skillet is that once the back part starts to chip off it’s really bad when it can get mixed up in the roof rights? My friend gave me her and it was old. Went through 3 generations. Given from her grand mother to her mom then to her and me. By the time I got it,-I realize that black stuff was coming onto my food. We were all having body aches, not sure if that caused it. However, I threw it away.
    I would like to join and exercise / food prepping anything. I’m plant based now for 11years.

  • I really was interested in this article and I wasn’t let down by what I read. I really enjoyed reading this article and I was jaw dropped by the facts. I am vegetarian and the article I think really will help with my diet.

  • I have low iron stores (Feritin?) and I want to start eating vegan. So….really worried about iron issue. This article was great. I am also low carb cuz carbs make my mind spin.

  • I’m very healthy and active with cycling, Pickleball, hiking, etc… I’ve been a strict vegetarian for nearly 25 years and eat what I would consider a varied and mostly healthy diet. I occasionally eat too many potato chips. I currently follow almost all of what you so nicely describe in your article. Thank you for the good information.

    So, being a 5ft3in 105pound, strong, healthy female specimen with the universal Type O blood, I attempted to donate blood today. I was turned away! My iron level was just below the acceptable level and I don’t weigh enough! I guess they prefer overweight couch potatoes with a diet of who knows what as long as they have high iron counts. Go figure.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this article. I had blood work done through a visit with my primary care doctor & I came back anemic. I was shocked. Never had this happened in all these years. Now, I’m taking a supplement that’s a whole food iron. My body rejected the prescription.
    But, now I’m going to take all your suggestions & incorporate them into my diet. I am vegan & I was told I’d have to start eating meat. Ethically I couldn’t. So, I’m not & this sheds new light on my problem♥️
    Thanks again for all the tips!!!
    Angie…. and the life of all animals♥️

  • I am happy to say that dark chocolate contains a good amount of iron. I get a large block of squares which I break into individual pieces and have one or two squares throughout the day. What a pleasant way to up my iron intake.

  • My husband is on chemotherapy and a vegan diet.
    His RBC and hematocrit are starting to drop.
    Recommendations on eating etc

  • I’ve been vegan for about 14 years and I eat raw veggies with each meal. I just received my blood results and my ferritin is only 16. The doctor wants me to take a supplement. I’m going to take small amounts of molasses and add prunes into my diet. Can you recommend a supplement that works well. Thank you Great article!

  • I am going vegetarian June 1st and have slowly been gearing up for the transition; this will be my third time switching to this diet. The last time I made it 90 days, I was practicing a vegetarian diet for Lent. My hope is to complete the 3 months and hopefully go 4 months if not longer, I am trying to not place a limit on myself, because at some point I hope the switch is permanent.

    The biggest problem I have is I run out of ideas to cook, and then I get bored with what I am eating and I start cheating with sweets, and then my carb intake goes through the roof, and I start eating meat again, to help off set those sweet cravings

    My hope this time is by subscribing to causes/sites like this, I will stay motivated, and keep on the diet

  • Your article was really helpful – thank you.

  • Iron supplements in tablet form are often enteric coated to reduce stomach irritation. Not a good idea to break/cut in half.

  • “If you have a cast iron pan, over time it will rust. That’s oxidation, and that happens to the metals that get into your body. So you need a trace of iron for healthy blood cells, but iron builds up in the brain and oxidizes,” explains Barnard, a nutrition researcher at George Washington University. “That releases free radicals, and destroys brain cells. So a stainless steel pan is better than a cast iron pan.”

  • Since it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to tolerate eating red meat, I suppose I’m going to have to take this into account now, huh? Are these the only ways to increase iron absorption, or are there other, recommended methods that can hopefully align with someone that doesn’t know how to cook?

  • Hi! I have hereditary hemochromatosis (my body absorbs too much iron) and am seeking dietary recommendations to reduce the iron in my blood. I am vegan, no-oil. I do not eat white rice or flour. I eat oatmeal with ground flax and hemp seeds along with raspberries and banana in the morning. I love salads, all vegetables, and fruits, including tomatoes, black beans and lentils and whole grain pasta, quinoa – many of these have iron. I am planning to give blood to lower my levels.
    Does anyone have any thoughts?

  • How is it when you have passed menopause. I am vegetarian and more or less vegan.
    But problem with intestines and absorbing nutrients. I do not eat over 2 000 calories per
    day or less app 1700.
    Iron is toxic I have heard if you do not need it. Nettles for instances are good to eat.

  • Hi, thanks for the great post. why are tomato Products or tomato paste a good source of iron but not tomatoes by themselves? Or are they? Can someone please explain? I keep finding tomato products listed is good sources of iron on this and other websites. Thank you!

    1. Tomato products such as paste are concentrated forms of the tomato.

  • I am fairly new to veganism. And so far, I consider it one of the best thing that happened to me.:) I donate blood regularly before, but several times I was denied to my hemoglobin being low. I came to donate again yesterday ( first time since i transitioned to a plant based diet. My hemoglobin was 13mg/dl! So i guess for me, its working out really well. 🙂

  • Eggs, the yolks primarily, do contain iron but the trick with them is the same as with plant sources of iron because their iron is also non-heme.

  • True. The element, iron, that our bodies need…compared to the iron on the skillet…contain identical number of protons. Now, the iron on the skillet may not be die heme Form.

    1. why bother. I have a male relative who will be 103 yrs. in August. HE was in the Olympics in 1936 with Jesse Owens.
      John has raised his vegetables and fruits. He eats eggs bacon berries.grapes for many years. He eats beef,chicken,venison,,and wild salmon and Cod and seafood. He has never had a heart attack, or cancer.He never could drink milk. HE makes Chicken soup almost every week. He had a cold 6 years ago. He always says to KEEP MOVING He fractured his hip at 89 years and healed up so fast the Doctors were amazed. He chopped wood up until a few years ago. He sat outside every day in the sun since his College days. He is on wickeleak John Lysak. I think he is from another planet. We camped with him for 30 years.

  • I have been a vegetarian since I was five years old. I take a daily vitamin and a 65mg iron pill with vitamin C almost everyday when it doesn’t hurt my stomach. I’ve been exhausted for years and I am slightly above anemia stage from time to time. I recently started donating plasma and get denied off and on. It is never consistent. I focus on nuts, beans and different greens and hate tofu. I incorporate vitamin C and the other tips mentioned above. Any other ideas? Please and thank you!

  • Good info to add to my research. I am a new vegeterian (lacto-ovo) for moral and health reasons since three weeks ago and take a liquid multivitamin and will supplement soon with an iron supplement. I had little knowledge about how other vitamins assist and interact with other vitamins, specifically the vitamin C and iron absorption. Good to know! May go vegan in the future soon but I love my eggs and cheese so much.

  • Good article. I do disagree about oxalates based on everything I’ve read. I think we should trust in plants and as long as we’re eating a variety of them, we should be fine. Plus, cooking destroys those acids anyway.
    About the dairy, I also wanted to add that it isn’t just that vegans replace dairy and eggs with plant foods which contain iron, but also that the dairy is fortified with calcium and high calcium intake decreases iron absorption when consumed together. So if someone’s putting calcium rich cheese sauce over their veggies or drinking dairy milk with their salads, it’s going to interfere with iron absorption.
    I also try to avoid wine with meals due to it interfering with certain mineral absorption. And if I take a magnesium supplement once in a while, I always make sure to do so separate from meals as it competes with iron.

  • […] What Every Vegetarian Needs to Know About Iron […]

  • Goodbread, thank you! I had been relying on spinach for my iron so this was really helpful info!

  • […] (quinoa, oatmeal), Vegetables (collard greens, swiss chard) are all excellent carriers of iron (Here is a great site by the way dealing with iron for […]

  • Nice article, sure it’s easier to become iron deficient if you go without meat or fish but as long as you eat the right foods you shouldn’t have much of a problem!

  • vegetarians may have lower iron levels than vegans due to dairy calcium that blocks absorption

  • What about the HEME iron
    Where can we get this from the vegan diet ?
    Isn’t essential too??

  • I came across this article when I was looking for ammunition! My husband thinks I’m doing my body a great disservice by being meat-free – specifically with the issue of iron. So now I have this to back my argument! Thank you 🙂

    1. Tell him to watch the movie “What the Health”…it might initiate further discussion on this. I watch this with my husband, who is an avid meat eater, and he actually said to me…”maybe I will try going Vegan!! I just about flipped out, as he is always telling my daughter she needs to eat meat.

  • Thanks for the post!! Very useful.
    I was actually concerned with the heme/non-heme issue when changing from vegetarian to vegan a few months ago. I was already aware of the fact that I had to stop with coffee (and tea, BTW) an hour before and after eating: I have a reminder in my all my agendas to mark when I have to stop with the stuff and start again).
    I will have to add spinach to the list, LOL.
    I am so happy to know that vegans are actually less affected by this problem 🙂

  • Thank you for this article. I am a 16 year old female, and recently went vegan about a year ago. I was vegetarian for about a year before that. I noticed my hair thinning about 5 months ago, and went to the doc to get some bloodwork. Come to find out I am low on iron, but not anemic. It’s incredibly strange, I have so much energy, ran 4 miles a day in the summer, but my hair continues to thin. I don’t even notice the hair falling out, it’s just gradually gotten thinner. I follow all of the steps above, I eat a wide variety of vegan food, fet plenty of vit c for absorbtion, and stay away from coffee, tea, and alcohol. I even supplement. My levels have doubled from 12 to 25 in a single month, but my hair continues to thin. Do you think it is just a reaction to my diet change?

    1. H. Pylori bacteria. Read as much as you can about it. It can make your B12 levels as well as iron levels low. Gluten can make it worse. Speaking from experience. Also, taking kelp helps.

    2. Marissa, I’m also suffering from hair loss so I’m interested to find out did you see any improvement?

    3. Marissa, I was reading that ferritin levels need to be above 40 to see a stop of hair loss. Hopefully you’ve achieved that, since you posted this over a year ago 🙂 But just in case it can help someone else…
      I’m fighting back from severe iron deficiency that left my ferritin levels at 8! I’m at 30 now with 3 months of supplementation with chelated iron (which doesn’t seem to upset my stomach in any way)…can’t wait to get over 40 and have my hair recover!

  • Before I was even a vegetarian I had low iron levels and I only knew that from giving blood. Well, I was not always allowed to give blood because my iron levels were too low to give blood. Now I have not given blood in about two years because I would keep trying to give and when they tested it for iron levels they said it was too low to give so I stopped. But now that I eat a great number of the foods that were listed of the foods that are high in iron, I feel as though I should give giving blood another chance because after all it is saving someones life.

  • Not the spinach! I’ve been adding handfuls to my green smoothies hoping to defeat my low iron.

  • *bump*
    Great information! I’m vegetarian (not vegan – yet), and get asked about protein all the time, when what I’m really worried about is iron and B12. I had never had a problem with these two nutrients until I became pregnant, and then became deficient in both. Any recommendations for a pregnant vegan on increasing the intake of these nutrients so I don’t end up deficient again? (currently prego again). Again not yet vegan, just vegetarian, but trying to limit animal products at this stage.

  • I read about an advantage for plant-based iron:
    Another difference between getting iron from plant foods compared to animal foods, is that the body will only absorb iron from plants if it has a need for iron. However, iron from animal foods is always absorbed, so that the body absorbs iron even when it has enough (or too much) iron already. I have read that too much iron can be dangerous too. If so, it is safer to get your iron from plan foods than from animal foods. People who ear large quantities of meat, liver etc might get iron overload.
    Have you heard about this? If true, it could be worth mentioning 🙂

  • Just posted this on our facebook page! Thank you so much for researching this!! My little 1 year old has low hemoglobin and I am trying to find great foods with Iron in them. This really helped me 🙂

  • This shouldn’t be used as an excuse for people suspecting iron deficiency anemia to see a doctor and have a blood test, though!
    I have had iron deficiency since long before I became vegan. After a year of veganism and supplementation of iron, my deficiency was gone. This was 3 years ago, however, and nowadays I feel okay but am not sure whether my iron levels are high enough.
    A plant-based diet is great, but if a person feels like they may be lacking something, he or she should seek testing. It isn’t always based on diet, as some people just absorb more iron than others.

  • I am so grateful for this article. I can now begin my road to recovery!!!! I suffered for many years with being overly tired. I had blood work done but I was told everything was normal. I don’t blame the doctor’s though, they did their part to assist. But now I can place a name to enigma. Thank you so much!!!

  • I believe in a healthy cooking, healthy eating, a healthy body and a healthy environment. The manufacturing of metal cookware is not healthy for the worker or the environment? Have you ever been to a steel mill or a foundry? I worked for Corning Glass Works for 23 years and I now own my own ceramic company. Food is better for you and tastes better when cooked in ceramics. Plus the manufacturing of ceramic causes no pollution. 100% Ceramic Cookware is changing how America eats – one home at a time.

  • Matt I love your Vegan article but you are wrong about cooking in cast iron. Throw the cookware out. Cast Iron Cookware – The Myth The truth is that iron comes in a ferrous and a ferric form. Our bodies can not assimilate the iron (ferric) from cast iron cookware. This means that iron from cast iron cookware is not bioavailable and it has no value to our bodies at the cellular level. In fact, it can be very harmful to people who are allergic to heavy metals and it can lead to auto immune problems. Bioavailability – The degree and rate at which a substance (as a drug) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity.

    1. You’re absolutely right The body cannot absorb inorganic minerals They have to be processed through the plant kingdom to become bioavailable All you are taking it is heavy metals which will be stored in your joints causing arthritis and pain

  • I am a midwife and a vegetarian. I have found that the form of iron supplement makes a big difference in how well it is absorbed and tolerated. Lots of iron pills are ferrous sulfate and they can cause nausea and constipation. Ferrous fumerate or ferrous gluconate are more easily absorbed. Shaklee has a good one that has vitamin C with it. Another good one is Floradix with is more expensive but works really well and quickly. It has herbs with it as well and come in a liquid form which also improves absorption and comes in a pill form if you like that better. The pills are cheaper. I hope this helps someone!

  • Great information (though I’m a little dismayed about spinach), thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Matt, Ive recently had my iron and B12 levels tested as a previous lacto ovo (been vegan for 2day at that stage) and i had 21/30 (very good) iron levels and 637 for my B12 score. Ive run for months and never taken B12 supplement or injection or lozenger. Im hoping with just some Marmite (B12 fortified) and nutritional yeast in the daily/most days diet- that itll be fine without having to supplement additionally 🙂 Cheers,

  • lot of good information THANKS

  • Cast Iron Cookware – The Myth
    The truth is that iron comes in a ferrous and a ferric form. Our bodies can not assimilate the iron (ferric) from cast iron cookware. This means that iron from cast iron cookware is not bioavailable and it has no value to our bodies at the cellular level. In fact, it can be very harmful to people who are allergic to heavy metals and it can lead to auto immune problems.
    Bioavailability – The degree and rate at which a substance (as a drug) is absorbed into a living system or is made available at the site of physiological activity.
    What’s the safest cookware? Not Non-stick Cookware
    Nonstick cookware’s advantages don’t include the toxic gases and chemicals that it can release.
    By Vanessa Vadim
    Fri, May 08 2009 at 8:36 PM EST
    1. “Metals carry a heavy burden of resource extraction, processing and manufacturing. Mining is a dirty and destructive process, and the manufacturing of complex, multiple-metal cookware is energy-intensive. In 2004, the metal mining industry was ranked as the nation’s worst toxic polluter by the EPA. Most metals can be recycled, but the mixing of elements (stainless coated copper, for example) can negate that quality. Coatings and nonstick linings break down with use and time, so these pans are short-lived”.

  • Dr. Barnard had a new book Power Foods for the Brain. He says that iron from cookware is not good for our bodies. It can oxidize in the body, just like your cast iron skillet gets rusty when it gets wet. He thinks we should cook in stainless steel. I haven’t read the book but I watched him talk about it on tv.

  • Good info. About a year ago I went (mostly) vegan (I am not always 100% loyal) from previously having a regular omnivorous diet… and comparing my blood labs from a year ago to last week I noticed a big drop in my iron and a small one in my calcium- I eat lots of beans, grains and veggies, so it must be an absorption issue? I do suffer from constant fatigue- but that has always been true so I don’t think its from that change…On the plus side- my Cholesterol also dropped a ton!

  • I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years and there are things in this article I never even knew! Thanks so much for taking the time to write about this. It gave me some good ideas (especially the part about taking half an iron tablet), and it’s good advice for anyone worrying about anemia. So glad I found this!

  • I have been vegetarian for 8 years and mostly vegan for 1 year. My diet is very healthy and includes a variety of fruit, veggies, and grains. However, I was having terrible symptoms this year and was diagnosed with extremely low ferritin levels after a blood test. Despite my healthy diet, I was suffering big time from low iron and now have to supplement. I think everyone should pay close attention to their own body and get regular check ups, and not necessarily think that eating a varied, healthy diet will keep them safe from everything.

  • I am 18 and have been vegetarian for almost 11 years now. In the last few weeks I have been having terrible faint turns and after a blood test have discovered that my iron levels are very low. I am now taking the iron supplement “Ferrous fumarate”.
    I was hoping someone might be able to give me some idea as to why after 11 years of a healthy vegetarian diet it is only now that my iron levels have gone so low.

    1. Sarah, I’m guessing it’s an absorption issue…definitely don’t know. But what I do know is that you can get iron transfusions (once a week for 4-8 weeks) and should be covered by your insurance. They made me feel so much better vERY quickly. Also, I’ve never had luck with iron pills, but liquid Floradix Iron + Herbs has been quite helpful in the past. Good luck.
      I have never been once to munch on ice, but a few years back, I suddenly couldn’t get enough. I was either crushing it in my blender or hitting up every drive-thru for their small-cubed ice. It turns out that this is a symptom common with anemia. (and yes, my numbers turned out to be very low then.)

      1. Oh my gosh – the ice craving thing has been a curious occurrence for me lately, too. I constantly crave it and love that I can get it anytime (read ‘all-the-time’) from our fridge door. Just had blood drawn last week and got the results today – low iron. I’m a vegetarian. I think I’ll try the blackstrap molasses route for awhile and see how that works; like the idea of warming it up in some nut/soy milk for a pleasant drink.

  • My iron tested low when I first went vegan. I bought some organic, unsulphured blackstrap molasses from my local co-op and began taking two to three tablespoons daily. The next time I tested, my levels were fine.
    Elizabeth, I dissolve mine in heated rice milk for a creamy, almost chocolaty drink. Goes down easy that way.

  • I have been a vegetarian for over 8 years, I never used to take iron supplements, then I ended up in the cardiac ICU with a heart rate of 25! I was so anemic that a simple cold virus had taken me down to almost dying. I was in there for 5 days. Please eat greens and try to get iron from food, but at least take a multi vitamin , like prenatal ones for example,with extra iron, you might be saving your life.!

  • GREAT article ! I wonder about liquid Iron supplements ? I had Gastric Bypass a year ago and one of the issues is how I now absorb the nutrients I need from foods. I take a Liquid Iron supplement ( not as regularly as I should. ) This post just reminded me that I need to be more consistent and get my blood work done. Thank you for the great info!

  • Interesting! Thanks for the info. I don’t need an excuse to eat more oatmeal and nut butter. 😉

  • That was really great information. I didn’t even know most of these things.

  • I was researching iron recently as a reader of my blog was interested. One interesting thing that I found, which you alude to above, is that omnivores are actually at risk of iron overload. In fact iron-overload is on the rise in the US and may even be more prevalent than anemia.
    The good news that a plant based diet doesn’t expose you to the risk of iron overload as non-heme iron uptake is better regulated. You only absorb what you need.

  • I had a pre-op physical for joint surgery a couple of months ago; my doctor was alarmed because I have a resting heart rate of 48 and I was at the very low end of normal for hematocrit (I’m a 55 year old female). She wouldn’t listen to my explanation that I’m a vegetarian and in very good shape; she wanted an echo prior to anesthesia (gee, normal!) and insists that I need a colonoscopy to assess for blood loss. It’s kind of sad that being somewhat athletic is seen as abnormal…..

  • Supplements have worked fine for me. I used to be vehemently opposed to them, but after starting to use them during my pregnancy, I’ve found they do help, and it’s easy. I never have any problem donating blood now, and I used to all the time, even when I ate meat. I think some of the constipation issues aren’t so much a concern if you have a plant based diet.

  • Actually, the type of calcium and phosphate found in milk bind to iron and prevent its absorption… there’s been some amount of research on this topic, and it seems the most likely cause of vegans having less iron deficiencies than vegetarians.

  • Thank you for including the part about spinach. It irks me when it is considered a source high in iron, since it isn’t truly absorbed well. Best to eat other greens for iron, not to dis spinach! It’s great in smoothies too!

  • Love my cast iron cookware! I was anemic growing up and once I went vegetarian (in my early teens), but haven’t had any issues with iron as a vegan (even through three vegan pregnancies). We use blackstrap molasses as our main sweetener and love the legumes and leafy greens. Great post.

  • There is a condition called Hemochromatosis that results in too much iron being absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
    There are two forms of hemochromatosis: primary and secondary.
    Primary hemochromatosis is usually caused by a specific genetic problem that causes too much iron to be absorbed. When people with this condition have too much iron in their diet, the extra iron is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and builds up in the body tissues, particularly the liver. The result is liver swelling. Primary hemochromatosis is the most common genetic disorder in the United States, affecting an estimated 1 of every 200 to 300 Americans.
    Symptoms are often very simular to iron defiency, so getting tested before taking iron supplements is a good idea.Blood tests may help make the diagnosis. Tests may include:
    Serum ferritin (high)
    Serum iron (high)
    Percentage of transferrin saturation (high)
    If you are diagnosed with hemochromatosis, you should follow a special diet to reduce how much iron is absorbed from your diet. You Should avoid iron pills or vitamins containing iron, vitamin supplements, iron cookware, or fortified processed foods such as 100% iron breakfast cereals.
    Google it for more infomation.

  • I had been a vegetarian for a long time when I went through a volunteer firefighter academy. I struggled with the physical aspects despite being a very active and strong woman. I got my iron levels tested. LOW.
    I tried the spinach route, didn’t do too much. I went back to consuming a little meat now and then.
    Now, I use blackstrap molasses from time to time and, I also use spinach. If you cook your spinach, even lightly, the oxalic acid is not as much of a problem. I believe it becomes something to worry about if you eat huge quantities and eat it raw.
    What have you heard? Thanks for the tips on the cast iron. I think I have one from a passed relative…I need to find it!

    1. Does the blackstrap bother your stomach or give you loose bowl movements ?

  • I read a while back about distance running causing an iron deficiency…something about the pounding on the feet. Am I remember that wrong? Can you address that? Thanks in advance!

  • Really informative article!

  • I have never given my iron intake any thought. Thanks for the article, it really opened my eyes to the importance of iron in my diet.

  • I have been vegan the past 5 months and recently finished a marathon– I did not do as well as hoped. Legs felt weak and tired. Long story but…. I have also felt lightheaded the past two days. Wondering if its low iron???

    1. Doesn’t hurt to get your blood counts checked, but are you sure you took in enough carbs? I’ve noticed an enormous difference on my long training runs when I get close to the recommended amount vs when I don’t. I’ve been told 30-60 grams/hour of exercise for long runs, shoot for 50 on average, from whatever source. If I stick to that I feel a ton better and recover so much more quickly. If you’re an old hand at distance running and all that is covered, and your training was up to snuff, then I would think it is definitely worth examining the rest of your diet and making sure there are no underlying issues. Good luck!

    2. Oh, also worth noting, I have read that distance running (or probably any intensive athletic endeavor) burns through red cells so you should make sure you get lots of iron afterward. I usually try to make sure I’m getting lots of dark leafy greens and such all the time, but especially after challenging runs.

  • Thank you for all the positive responses here. I’m glad I bought stock in cast-iron skillets before I wrote this!

  • Great post and info will passing this to all GO VEG! As a vegan this is helps a lot knowing I don’t need to supplement

  • As a vegetarian (nearly-vegan) who struggles to get even 25% of the daily recommended intake of iron, I was shocked to get blood work back recently that showed my iron levels were OFF THE CHARTS (150% of the recommended level with a 300% level of saturation). I believe it’s because my iron sources are plant-based and proves that it’s quality over quantity!

    1. Wow! What do think are the sources you consume the most?

    2. Have you been checked for hemochromatosis?

  • It’s only raw spinach that isn’t good for iron needs – once it’s cooked, the oxalates are destroyed. 🙂

    1. Unfortunately this is not true.

      1. I wish that were true. My arthritis reacts badly to oxalates, and even cooked, spinach is a terror for me.

        1. Your system and pH is over acidic for some other reason( incompatible food,combinations not hydrated not enough sleep too much exercise unhealthy environment not enough alkaline food

    2. You got it backwards What happens with cook spinach is the oxalates change form. this is a negative eat it raw the way nature intended. the minerals change when the food is cooked( inorganic minerals body doesn’t recognize it electrical chargelost life force gone

  • Thanks for the information. I have severe iron-deficiency anemia and have to get IV treatments. Regarding the vegan/vegetarian iron differences, calcium can also prevent absorption as can fiber and diet drinks containing artificial sweetners. Processed soy is iffy (it is not good to have processed soy for people with breast cancer or thyroid issues). Any suggestions for how to stomach Blackstrap molasses?

    1. I like a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in oatmeal. Especially topped with a banana. Or you can just down a tablespoon straight. That’s about all I can handle that way, though. 🙂

      1. I’ll try the oatmeal – can’t stomach it plain – or cooked in bread.:)

    2. My mom used to make molasses milk shakes I got the benefits from the molasses and it tasted really good I’m sure it would be just as tasty with alMonday milk and non dairy ice creams

    3. Make ginger brsad with the molasses-delicious. Add to ht drive ks like cocoa or coffee sub. .

  • A little tip: if you like cooking with a cast iron skillet, try to find an old (pre 1970s) Griswold Skillet, from when they were still made in Erie. I bought one on ebay to replace the modern one I had been using for several years, and it is in another league. Lighter, smoother, holds its seasoning better. They are a bit pricey on ebay, but way worth it. You also might luck into one for almost nothing at a garage sale, since a lot of people no longer use them.

    1. Jody, That is very interesting info about the Griswold Skillet. You said that they hold their seasoning better. Do they hold their seasoning even when used to cook veggies? I found with my cast iron skillet, which is not a Griswold, that if I only use it to fry with and never put foods with a high moisture content, then it keeps it’s seasoning better. However, this article about iron says to cook foods with vitamin C in cast iron. That would probably be tomatoes and other veggies. Any thoughts?

      1. Seems like the 2 biggest things to avoid are tomatoes and boiling water. I stir-fry veggies in my skillet all the time with no problems. The Griswold is really much better than the newer one I used to cook with.

  • I’m not a vegetarian but still took some great points from this. I was iron deficient when I was a vegetarian but part of the problem was my gluten intolerance and me not absorbing all the nutrients from foods. When I nixed the gluten and rounded out my diet more me levels came back to normal.

  • This is a great article with valuable information. It always seems to come down to having a varied diet. Variety is key!

  • Thank you for this article. I’ve recently discovered that half of the girls on the high school x-c team are on iron supplements. My daughter is mostly vegan and seems to be fine, she places in the top ten usually, but I’m wondering if I should get her iron checked anyway? Is it true that dairy and soy block iron absorption? I will definitely be buying a cast iron skillet too!

    1. Soy and dairy do not block iron absorption. Even though dairy products have little iron in them but non-dairy products have high iron in it.

    2. The calcium in dairy (and other foods) block the absorption of iron. Many non-dairy milks are fortified with calcium so pay attention to that.

  • Great article! I’ve read some about the subject before, but great to hear an overview. Also, that’s a great point about being vegan instead of vegetarian and increasing iron levels!

  • What dosage of an Iron supplement is recommended? Thanks!

  • I have been vegetarian for several years and went vegan about 9 months ago. I had struggled with iron deficiency anemia for a few years, and tried pretty much all of the tips Matt offers. I’d tried taking iron supplements but couldn’t tolerate them. Finally, I stopped taking the proton pump inhibitor medication I had been on for GERD for several years (not long after going veg). Within a few months my anemia resolved and I have since been able to donate blood. It really is about the absorption. This is a known side effect of PPI’s but my doctor hadn’t believed that could be the problem. My advice is to keep that in mind if you’re having continuous problems and ruled out low intake. If your symptoms are mild enough or can be controlled another way, it might be worth discussing going off the PPI with your doctor. (Just give it a good few months trial as my blood tests still showed anemia after just 1 month off the drug. )

    1. Women in my family are also prone to anemia. Very important that iron supplements are taken on a full stomach, and never take more than 25-30 mgs. a day. The real problem is that many brands sell these supplement pills in such high doses that taking a whole pill is actually unhealthy. My first go round with the supplements I had the same problem, I would get incredibly sick to my stomach after taking them, but after making adjustments I haven’t had any difficulty tolerating them. I also take a general B vitamin supplement (low dose, of course) and add amino acids to foods when I’m cooking (brewer’s or nutritional yeast). Been keeping up this regime 3 years now and my blood levels are right where they should be. I think being vegan has caused me to be much more aware of what I take and improved my health in general. When I ate meat, I never monitored my daily intake of anything.

      1. Women in general are more susceptible to anemia do to menstruation. That’s why we require more iron in our diet and especially so when pregnant. Don’t see a doctor for nutritional deficiencies, see a registered dietitian. Doctors are only required to take one nutrition course and this is pre-med.

    2. PPI’s = proton pump inhibitors reduce the production of H+ ions in the stomach necessary for changing the oxidation state of iron and facilitating the of absorbing of iron further along the GI tract. I also have been a vegetarian for 24 years with no evidence after the first few months of either B12 or iron deficiency. Also taking 500mg of vitamin C twice daily helps the absorbing of iron along with your green diet. Fresh/cooked kale is another high source of iron. Quinoa is another good source, but purchasing this item causes the cost for Andean Indians quinoa to go up making it economically too expensive for them despite this is the region where it is primarily raised. Andean Indians have the highest level of Iron deficiency in this hemisphere, and the highest incidence of iron deficiency in Latin Americas; too bad because it is not difficult to grow quinoa there.

    3. I am interested to know how you manage your GERD without the PPI? I had the same issue with low frrritin and wondered if it was from the PPI so have switched to an h3 blocker but it doesn’t work as well.

  • …and I thought spinach was a good iron source 🙁 Great information and another incentive for me to go vegan! Thanks for sharing!

  • Great post! Training for an ultra marathon I have been able to maintain my iron levels with diet. Thank goodness! Iron supplements really screw up my system. B12…now that is another issue. Luckily though, those vitamins don’t cause as much havoc on my body.

    1. Do you use nutritional yeast? That’s high in B12.

      1. Yeasts are really bad you don’t want them in your diets. They contribute to Candita , fungus and other things., Yeast and molds are the underlying cause of cancer. You don’t want yeasts in your diet. read the book sick and tired by Robert o young.

        1. Happily, that’s not actually true. 🙂

          1. Hi Mia, that was a gentle rebuke 🙂 I don’t place any credence in the whole”yeastie beasties taking over the world” thing, but I can’t honestly say I don’t have any facts on my side: how did you come to your conclusion? Have you read any particular articles, books, or sites that proved this to be quackery? Or did I just misunderstand you and you just meant that nutritional yeast does not contribute to systemic yeast issues?

        2. nutritional yeast is not your regular yeast, it’s somehow inactivated, I don’t really know the process but it is nutritional and contains B12 which you have to keep in mind if you’re vegan/vegetarian, and it does not feed you candida

          1. Nutritional yeast doesn’t have vitamin b12 naturally. You need to make sure to read the labels and make sure that it has been added.

        3. Indeed Victor, research backs up your claim. Too many people have candida that goes undiagnosed! Had a friend who almost died until a homeopathic doctor diagnosed & treated his candida & saved his life! You are SPOT ON my friend!

      2. Only some types of nutritional yeast are fortified with B12, so be sure to check the labels. Also, many almond milk brands as well as cereals are fortified with it. You usually will need to eat fortified foods OR take supplements, as B12 is not generally found in plant foods.

    2. I had that issue, too. But I increased my sea-vegetable intake and it’s been…delicious! Seaweed paper for veggie sushi, kelp granules to season stir-fries, and miso soup with the seaweed strips. My taste buds had to get used to it at first, but now I love it dearly!

      1. Spinach is a great source of iron. nothing wrong with it when you eat it raw. when cooked the oxalates are absorbed

      2. I don’t eat anything from the ocean and I’m new to this type of diet. So I wanted to ask you would seaweed be like fish where you can only eat so much because it absorbs toxins from the ocean?

        1. No, I’ve read that seaweed holds onto any toxins that it may come into contact with and when you consume it, it doesn’t release them, it passes right through you intacked so It is safe to consume. I do believe that the ‘proof is in the pudding’ so to speak, and you should try it to see if it helps you. Obviously if you are buying something like spirulina, you should check the brands ‘Certificate of Analysis’ to see the level of toxins/heavy metals. Big brands will readily be able to give this to you. On the topic of spirulina, it has helped me so much with low iron and debilitating period pain, to the point of fainting/blacking our. If I take 1 teaspoon a day, added to smoothies, I experience no pain whatsoever. I can’t recommend it enough to everyone with low iron levels. Please try it!

  • Wow this was a great article. My daughter is a vegetarian and always has low iron. I will make sure she sees this. My dad swears by cast iron pans and I am going to get myself one real soon. Thx for the info.

  • So this is probably an anomaly – but I am a vegan with HIGH iron. Higher than the normal range. I have seen a doctor about this and was told that it is not due to genetics, etc, but from diet. I am supposed to watch my iron intake for the next month and come back for a re-test. My doc was super vague about how to cut back and basically told me to Google it. If you guys have any suggestions on foods to eliminate/watch out for, a goal I should be shooting for each day, portion sizes of high iron foods or any thing else that you think would help – I would love to hear it!

    1. Giving blood is the easiest way of reducing your iron and helping out someone else, making you feel good too! Seriously!

    2. Really old comment but just in case it helps somebody…taking activated charcoal reduces iron quite dramatically. Definitely worth doing if you have this issue!

    3. Your doctor told you to… google it?!?! Lazy and negligent spring to mind. I would strongly recommend finding another doctor. Nutrition and tuh body is a science. You need medical and professional assistance. I am shocked and disgusted at this behaviour. Any doctor suggesting a patient googles their own treatkent should be struck off..

    4. You should check to see if you have Hemochromotosis!

      1. Agreed! My aunt has this and it is definitely genetic!

  • Interesting! Thanks for this info!

    1. It’s the cook spinach that has the oxalates raw spinach is no problem.

      1. But cooked spinach contains more iron than raw spinach. ‘Tis a catch-22.

        1. Not if you can’t absorb it. It might as well not be there.

        2. after cooking, iron contents can not increase. It might just seem so.

        3. I heard of that too. The study was probably done on cooked spinach and raw spinach may act in a better way.

      2. Its actually the other way around! The raw spinach contains the oxalates, cooking the spinach reduces them!

      3. Oxalates are water soluble. When you cook spinach it breaks down some of the oxalates but it also pulls a lot of them out into the liquid as the leaves are reduced.

      4. Pretty sure it’s the other way around. Cooking spinach naturally gets rid of the oxalates in spinach.

    2. I am below normal in Iron for the last 3 years if not 6. I noticed it after I had my first child 2008 years ago when my hair started falling out long after the normal post pregnant shedding. I test positive for ANA w/ no other symptoms, & am very low on the “normal” scale for thyroid. I have been diary free last 15 years and red meet free 10, and pescetarian only the last year and a half w/ eggs. I eat green smoothies for breakfast w/ kale, spinach, orange juice, flax, berries, 1/2 banana. Lunch/dinner is eggs, lentils, beans, rice, salsa, soups, raw veggies, apples, seasonal fruit, cabbage, potatoes, occasional tofu, mushrooms, eggplant, & fish. We mainly use cast Ion pans. I take an 18mg iron supplement every few days w/ a stools softener, otherwise even w/ a liquid meal once a day I might not have a movement for the day.
      Dr. says because I don’t have skin discoloration or bald spots, my thinning hair (1/2 volume of before babies) is “normal hair loss” & I could take supplements if I wanted.

      1. You may be malabsorbed so you are not getting the minerals from the food.
        Also for hair loss – seaweed – esp kelp, and dulse , nori are excellent, also green drinks as in juices – celery, greens, that type of thing. Kelp helps the thyroid which affects the hair loss and calcium utilisation. this us typical story after pregnancy to lose ones hair because you are giving everything to the baby as nature favours the baby when you are pregnant not you, so minerals can be lost from your bones , connective tissue- which is why prolapses are common during or post pregnancy, and hair.
        However its no use just taking these foods – because first you have to detox your gut so that you can restart the absorbtion AND utilisation in the body. Detox yourself with a fruit diet – All the best,

        1. So since last I had my iron checked again and it went from 23 to 18 (below normal, anemic). So then my Dr. Agrees with me and says I should take (2) 65mm iron sulferus pills a day and get tested every 3 months. I’ve gone in twice and my level is at 54, out of a range of 23-300. Not middle yet. But! The curl in my hair is back to normal just working on volume.
          I read recently if your iron level isn’t right for you, there will be loss no matter what. Your hair has a 5-6 year life expectancy and if your iron levels aren’t in the right place for you it cuts its life in half. Hope that helps someone else.

          1. 1. you might be sensitive to wheat, which can cause all the problems you mentioned.
            2. try liquid natural iron supplement. works better then the pills.
            3. avoid tofu and any soybeans products! especially if you have hormonal issues it’s really bad.
            4. hair loss is related to calcium. find good resources for calcium. like almonds. check for vitamin D deficiency.
            5. I should be a doctor 🙂

          2. Rebecca, I’m interested in your update. I’m suffering from hair loss for years now. I’m also vegetarian so it seems to me there are not so many choices of iron rich foods. Please, I’m looking for any advice

        2. Hair loss is a classic sign of Hypothyroidism. Get labs but not just TSH, Drs draw their conclusion on this Pituitary hormone. The test must include Free T3 and Free T4.. T3 needs to be in upper level and T4 in the middle. Tsh is almost worthless in diagnosing. Also start on Natural Thyroid, not Synthetic.

          1. I’m sorry Lili, I don’t think you should be a doctor. Unfortunately the points you make do not apply to everyone. Liquid iron supplements do work better for me, but not for others I know. There has been so much research showing that tofu and soybean products do not affect your hormonal levels in any way (www.nutritionfacts.org) so blanket statements like that can be dangerous. I would not be as healthy a vegan as I am without tofu and tempeh, not to mention they can be delicious!
            …and finally hair loss is not always related to calcium. I can be yes, but another blindly made blanket statement. I’m not a confrontational person I swear, and I’m sure your comment comes from a good place, but nutrition is not so black and white for everyone. Some things work for some and not for others. There are hundreds of factors to consider before giving someone sound advice. Let’s be a little more careful please.

      2. HAVE YOUR DOCTOR CHECK YOUR FERRITIN LEVELS! I, too, suffered greatly. The symptom that I complained about was hair loss. My ob/gyn tested me for anemia, said I was “normal” & also quipped that I was “too pink to be anemic!” Well, 9 months later, I got my tired self to a dermatologist to look further into my thinning hair problem. She immediately asked if I was anemic. I said the ob/gyn said “no.” She asked if she had checked my ferritin levels (the amount of iron that your body stores) & proceeded to test my blood. When the results came back, I was DANGEROUSLY low! Normal is 40-60; my reading was 8!!! So, I researched & found a gynecologist recommended iron supplement (by Dr. Christiane Northrup) that was readily absorbed & did not cause uncomfortable side effects (i.e., constipation). Took the pills religiously for about a year & afterwards my levels were in a very healthy range! Turns out, my ob/gyn should have realized that my body had just not been able to ever “catch up” with all of the blood loss from my 4 or 5 years of menoraghia (extremely heavy periods), so it depleted my iron stores to an incredibly dangerous level. I don’t mean to bore you with this explanation, but it was a very big deal to me & if my story helps even one other reader to recover, then I will feel that my time typing this was not wasted!

        1. Thank you! I will have my ferritin levels checked & tell my daughter in law also

        2. what was the supplement you took?

        3. What is the supplement you took?

        4. Hi Mary P.! Thank you for your post! I have just read your great comment because I am having the same low FERRITIN level as you are: 8! I feel tired all the time and also short at breath and after trying with more veggies I have realized that I still have to find out the right amount and what veggies to eat to be able to live without iron supplements. Does not work yet with me! Please tell me the liquid iron-brand you are taking.
          I am from Europe and various doctors keep prescribing to me the same- sugar coated pink pills incl. foliate: 256,30mg iron part and 0,35mg foliate part: “TARDYFERON-
          FOL.” Thanks for your answer in advance!!! Gerta Hofer

          1. Has anyone responded to liquids for iron absorption? I’m anemic very low ferritin going to a hematologist this Tuesday. I ve been on liquid chlorophyll Es and 1x made by natures sunshine I bought at a health foods store but you can also buy online. I m no specialist so you would need to ask a health foods store for exact amounts. Best of luck!

        5. Sounds like myself my ferritin levels are extremely low at a 10 and i feel off balance light headed. But yet all my lab’s are fine except my Ferritin levels. So i been taking something called Hemeplex from a health food store. Hopefully i can get my ferritin levels up.

        6. Thank you I learned alot from your post

        7. Hi Gerta,
          I ran into the same problem! I have had hair loss for the past 6-7 years and I am not a big fan of meat so I usually have a vegetarian diet albeit a poor one that I’m working on improving. My PCP told me I was just a little low on iron but nothing to worry about even though I do feel tired and have low energy most of the time plus my hair loss had severely depressed me. I finally went to an endocrinologist who ran a ferritin test as well and my levels came back as an 8 as well! I haven’t heard back from my doctor yet but am waiting to see what supplement he recommends. I am going to try much harder to improve my diet as well. What supplement was recommended by your physician?

        8. Thanks,i appreciate your post,what you have posted is exactly what I have been undergoing but didn’t know what to do.

        9. Good to hear you iron is stable now.
          What about your hair? Did it grow back?

      3. When I was pregnant the only way I could get my iron up-after some research Adel David! Was taking 6 foliate pills. It worked,so I didn’t have to have an iv while in labor.

      4. Maybe cut out the eggs at mealtimes and just have them as a snack in between. They can inhibit iron absorption so even though your diet is great, there maybe some aspects to it that are not allowing your body to properly absorb the iron rich foods you’re eating.

      5. Stop eating eggs and fish and switch to a vegan diet. I promise you will feel better and might even be able to stop taking that iron supplement! 🙂

        1. This is great advice and definitely one of the first things everyone should try in the first instance to cure any ailment they have. The analogy I like to use is that if your car isn’t running properly, check that you haven’t put sand in the petrol tank!

          1. What a great way to put it

      6. Low Iron absolutely can cause thyroid issues, ADHD, mood swings and a a host of other issues. I would schedule an Iron IV. If your ferritin is very low, you can still get one even if you have normal hemaglobin, MCV, MCH and saturation. The key is not to talk to your regular doctor but a hematologist. Regular doctors, for the most part, have minimal nutrition training and do not understand Ferritin being as important. Hematologists do understand that when your stores of Ferritin are under 30, you will lose hair. I lost half of mine and I do have a absorption issue, but it effected my thyroid, moods and hair. It is a good idea to get checked for your intestinal absorption, but also, chronic anemia can be a symptom of a disease. Our bodies are smart.If you have something going on (ex: cancer) often your body will cause a lack of absorption to keep the cells from multiplying by making the oxygen environment in your blood less than ideal. I guess the short version is to please go see a hematologist. They can tell if it is anemia of chronic disease or you are just deficient with the lab work. Blessings!

        1. This is a very good response. If you have dangerously low ferritin levels there is generally a cause – in my case a stomach ulcer. I was so low I was at risk of heart failure and was straining for breath. One week after a massive intravenous dose of ferritin I feel back to normal. Solve the cause and your body doesn’t have to struggle to catch up on iron levels.

      7. I’ve been iron deficient anemic for 10 years? now and taken many iron supplements but only one has worked. It’s called Iron Glyinate and it is gentler form of the ferrous iron with no upset stomach, constipation, bad things. I buy mine at Vitamin World and take two a day every morning but I need to get it checked again since I’ve been more tired than usual lately and my hair won’t stop falling out every time I shower. Best of luck to you

        1. Hi Kate,
          I didn’t realize the hair loss could be an iron deficiency! I was thinking thyroid but all was good on those levels. My doctor says extreme anemia but I even had it prior to going vegan almost a year ago. Thanks for the feedback! I know I need a recheck myself on iron levels. Best of luck!

      8. You might try adding some Selenium also since your thyroid is on the lower end. The hair thinning and loss is very common for hypothyroidism.

      9. If you have an IUD or are taking hormonal birth control, that may be a hair loss reason. I lost so much hair starting 6 months after I had an IUD placed. I talked to my Obstetrician about my hair loss and he said it was impossible that it was from the IUD. Unfortunately at the time, I didn’t ask any questions- 2 years later, I lost about half of my hair and I had the IUD removed. 6 months after that, once all the hormone was out of my system, my hair started coming back! In addition to that, I went vegan and have been feeling amazing! Good luck!

        1. IUD’s intrauterine devices should not contain hormones….the very best one is the Copper-7. Nobody likes to give it to you because it lasts a long time (up to 10 yrs) has no hormones, no effect like that. Best contraception ever imho. To compensate when they will give you one they have jacked the price way up.

    3. Iron supplements should not be taken with food. Vitamin c does increase the absorption of many nutrients and is safe to take with iron, but it should be 1 hour before a meal or 2 hours after a meal. Same with calcium. Taking calcium with other vitamins will block them from being absorbed. That is why you will not find calcium in a multi vitamin and need to tak it at a separate time, preferably with vitamin D3 needed for absorption. 🙂 just helpful tips from your army nurse.

      1. Hi, I am confused. This article says to take the iron supplement always with food or juice? I just learned that my Ferrin us 9 and I need to take the iron supplement. But, now not sure with or without food?

        1. Definitely w/ orange juice. I take mine after I eat or I throw up Iron can make your stomach upset

    4. Finally some simple sraightfoward not tons of info to wade through info. wish id found this 30yrs ago,

    5. That great now I can fend of my friend about being vegetarian and that I can get enough iron with out meat.

    6. I was surprised that while how much iron is absorbed is the key, no mention in the article about
      the vital role b12 plays in determining how much iron is utilized. In fact the biggest factor in
      coming down with pernicious anemia is a lack of b12 rather than a lack of iron. B12 is essential
      for both iron absorption and basic mental functioning and mood. I am a vegan, and I pay
      close attention to the vitamins and minerals I am taking in with my diet, especially b12, and
      vitamin D, which in addition to b12 has a definite impact on health, mood, and depression levels.

      1. Such a great tip for vegans regarding B12. How do you best get your B12? I’ve heard of people getting the B12 shots. Have you tried that, and if so, with what results. I appreciate your info!

        1. Interesting synchronicity….I just stumbled upon Ashitaba, a whole plant source of B12 and B6!

  • As a new vegetarian (since January) it is always helpful to me to have reliable sources of info and articles like this. One of the reasons I went vegetarian was for my health, and I want to make sure I am doing it the right way. Thank you for this and keep these articles coming!

  • Iron and vegetarian diets | The Medical Journal of Australia

    This is a republished version of an article previously published in MJA Open

    Iron is an essential nutrient for haemoglobin and myoglobin formation and is vital for health and peak performance. Much of our iron requirement is met through recycling of the iron in red blood cells.1 The amount of iron stored is carefully regulated by intestinal absorption, as we have a limited ability to excrete excess iron.2

    Groups considered at risk of iron deficiency

    There are three levels of iron deficiency, in increasing order of severity: depleted iron stores, early functional iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia (Box 1). Iron deficiency limits oxygen delivery to cells, resulting in weakness, fatigue, reduced immunity, shortness of breath, sensitivity to cold, and heart palpitations. Iron deficiency anaemia in pregnant women can result in premature delivery, low birthweight in infants and higher infant mortality. Other symptoms include delayed psychomotor development in infants and impaired cognitive function.3

    Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting about 25% of the global population, particularly young women and children.4 At most risk are people who follow restricted diets. In developing countries this is usually due to a limited food supply, but in Western countries like Australia it is most commonly seen in young obese women who follow restricted energy diets to lose weight.5

    Iron deficiency is not always caused by inadequate dietary intake, but may result from various medical conditions. Dialysis treatment in people with chronic renal failure can lead to loss of iron; gastrointestinal inflammation (eg, in Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease) may impair iron absorption; and gastrointestinal blood loss (eg, associated with colorectal cancer, aspirin use or genitourinary diseases) may cause iron deficiency, particularly in older people. Excessive intake of zinc (due to zinc supplementation) may also impair iron absorption.3

    It is commonly thought that vegetarians (people who exclude meat, poultry and seafood from their diet, but include dairy foods and/or eggs) and vegans (those who exclude all animal products) may be more prone to iron deficiency. Additional concerns about vegetarian diets include lower bioavailability of iron from plant sources (relative to animal sources) due to dietary inhibitors such as phytate in plants. In this article we consider (i) whether plant-based vegetarian diets can provide enough iron from non-meat sources to prevent iron deficiency; (ii) factors that affect how much iron we absorb; and (iii) whether the higher recommended dietary intake (RDI) of iron for vegetarians in the 2006 revised Nutrient reference values for Australia and New Zealand including recommended dietary intake6 is warranted.

    Types and best sources of iron

    There are two types of iron in food: haem and non-haem iron. In animal products, 40% of the total iron content is haem iron and 60% non-haem iron.7 Haem iron provides 10%–15% of total iron in meat-eating populations, but because of its higher and more uniform absorption (estimated at 15%–35%), haem iron could contribute at least 40% of all iron absorbed.8 Plant foods contain only non-haem iron, which is found naturally in wholegrain cereals and breads; dried beans and legumes; dark green leafy vegetables; dried fruits; and nuts and seeds. Many breakfast cereals and some breads are also fortified with iron.

    Even for non-vegetarians, most iron in the Australian diet comes from plant foods rather than meat. Less than 20% of iron intake comes from meat and meat products and about 40% comes from cereals and cereal products.9 The same is true in the United Kingdom, where 45% of dietary iron comes from cereals and cereal products and less than 20% comes from meat and meat products.10 Iron-fortified cereals make an important contribution to iron intake in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meal plans, particularly in energy-restricted diets.5 RDIs for iron have been set based on the assumption that a substantial amount of iron will come from non-meat sources. The iron content per 100 g of commonly available plant and animal foods is shown in Box 2. The iron content of plant sources of iron per common serve size is shown in Box 3.

    Iron stores: regulation, adaptation and impact on absorption

    The amount of non-haem iron absorbed is primarily determined by the body’s need for iron — people with the lowest iron stores will absorb more and excrete less.8,13 Humans can adapt successfully to a wide range of iron requirements and intakes.14 If iron intake is low, vegetarians adapt by excreting less faecal ferritin. In pregnant women, who need the most iron, absorption can increase by 60% relative to normal.15,16 Non-haem iron is nearly as well absorbed as haem iron by people with very low iron stores.13 There is apparently no advantage in storing more than a minimal amount of iron.17 RDIs for iron are set with the goal of maintaining serum ferritin levels at 15 μg/L or functional adequacy.3

    Haem iron and non-haem iron are both absorbed in the small intestine, but via different mechanisms. Haem iron is absorbed through the gut wall intact, regardless of how much we need.18 Non-haem iron absorption is more carefully controlled, as it is more readily absorbed when the body has need for iron — a protective measure for iron overload.13 This sensitivity is vital, as the body has limited mechanisms for excreting excess iron: shedding skin, sloughing off of mucosal cells in the intestinal and urinary tracts, loss of hair, and menstruation.

    Bioavailability of iron: inhibitors and enhancers

    Non-haem iron bioavailability is influenced by various dietary components that either enhance or inhibit its absorption. The efficiency of non-haem iron absorption in people with low iron stores depends on these enhancing and inhibiting food constituents being consumed concurrently.13 Although inhibitors and enhancers may cancel each other out, particularly in a diet that includes a wide variety of foods,19 it is wise to be aware of their possible effects until more is known about their full impact.

    The main inhibitor of non-haem iron absorption is phytate, or phytic acid, which is usually found in legumes, nuts, wholegrain cereals and unprocessed bran. Processing the wholegrain removes much of the phytate content, but also removes other beneficial nutrients such as iron and zinc. Soaking and sprouting legumes, grains and seeds reduces phytate levels, as does leavening of bread.20 Phytic acid may actually provide health benefits as a potent antioxidant, reducing the risk of several chronic diseases, including various forms of cancer.20-22 Other inhibitors of non-haem iron absorption include polyphenol-containing beverages such as tea (including herbal teas), coffee, cocoa and red wines.23

    While some studies have found that oxalic acid (present in spinach, silverbeet and beetroot leaves) may inhibit iron absorption, recent studies suggest that its effects are relatively insignificant.24 Calcium has also been considered an inhibitor of both haem and non-haem iron absorption, but recent research suggests that, over a long period of time, calcium has a limited effect on iron absorption (possibly due to an adaptive physiological response).25 Nevertheless, it may be best to avoid consuming high-calcium supplements with meals.26

    The most significant enhancer of iron absorption is vitamin C (both synthetic and dietary), which can enhance absorption up to sixfold in those who have low iron stores,27 overcoming the effects of phytic acid, polyphenols, calcium and milk proteins.3,8,28,29 Absorption is increased as much as three- to sixfold with the addition of 50 mg of vitamin C per meal.30 Vitamin C facilitates the conversion of Fe3+ (ferric) to Fe2+ (ferrous) iron, the form in which iron is best absorbed. Vegetarians typically have high intakes of vitamin C from a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Meals rich in vitamin C may have no effect on serum ferritin levels if iron stores are already elevated.31

    Other organic acids (citric, malic and lactic acids),32 as well as vitamin A and β-carotene, enhance non-haem iron absorption.33 An ascorbic acid derivative, erythorbic acid (E315), used widely as an antioxidant in processed foods, appears to be almost twice as effective as ascorbic acid in enhancing non-haem iron absorption.34

    Meat also enhances non-haem iron absorption, but animal proteins (milk protein, egg proteins and albumin) inhibit iron absorption.7 It was previously thought that soy protein also had an inhibitory effect on iron absorption,35 but new research shows that iron in soy is in the form of ferritin and is highly available. It has no negative effect on iron status,36,37 and is as well absorbed as iron from ferrous sulfate.38

    Estimating how much iron we absorb

    The amount of total iron available from a mixed diet (including meat) is estimated at 18%, whereas the amount of total (non-haem) iron available from a vegetarian diet is considered to be about 10%.3 Estimates of iron absorption rates are based on short-term and single-meal studies (meals high in inhibitors) that are usually carried out in people with adequate iron stores. In such people, iron absorption will have been down-regulated and is unlikely to accurately reflect absorption over the long term. Single-meal studies do not allow for intestinal adaptation involving increased absorption and decreased losses.39 For a more accurate estimate of iron absorption in vegetarian diets, studies need to be done on vegetarians (with the usual low ferritin levels) who eat more typical vegetarian diets.

    Some researchers state that concerns over non-haem iron bioavailability and the effect of enhancers and inhibitors are less important than previously thought,19,28,39,40 and that iron absorption is underestimated.41 In fact, researchers report that iron status is more important than bioavailability in determining the amount of non-haem iron absorbed8,13,42 and that, in women, menstrual blood loss (rather than dietary composition) is the major determinant of iron stores.42

    Are vegetarians at risk of iron deficiency?

    Vegetarian and vegan diets generally contain just as much or more iron than mixed diets containing meat.43-45 The 2003 UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey46 showed that a vegetarian diet was not associated with lower-than-average total iron intake47,48 and that there was little association between indicators of iron status and dietary iron intake.42 Compared with meat-eaters, vegetarians may often have lower serum ferritin levels (although still within the normal range), even when their iron intakes are adequate,44,49-51 but the physiological impact of reduced ferritin levels in vegetarians is unknown at this time. Vegetarians may reduce their risk of low iron levels by eating foods rich in enhancers, such as vitamin C and organic acids.47

    In Western countries like Australia, where we enjoy a varied food supply, vegetarians are no more likely to suffer from iron deficiency anaemia than non-vegetarians.13 Low iron stores, without iron deficiency anaemia, have not been shown to adversely affect function.13 Iron deficiency clearly impairs function only when haemoglobin concentrations are measurably decreased, but this has not been shown across all studies.13,15 In the large European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study of 43 000 women, vegetarians and non-vegetarians had similar iron intakes and haemoglobin concentrations.44 Many studies in Western societies suggest there is little difference, if any, in iron status (measured by haemoglobin levels, haematocrit, total iron-binding capacity, transferrin saturation and serum iron levels) between vegetarians and non-vegetarians,15,52 but a number of studies suggest that vegetarians are at greater risk of having low iron stores (as reflected by serum ferritin).15

    Higher iron requirement for vegetarians — is it justified?

    The current Australian RDI for iron is based on research by the United States/Canadian Institute of Medicine (IOM), which recommends for the first time that the iron requirement for vegetarians be 1.8 times that of the regular RDI.6 Interestingly, the UK Food Standards Agency has not set a higher iron requirement for vegetarians.53 Although the research is far from conclusive, the IOM’s dietary reference intake committee appears to have used a single 1991 study19 to justify the 80% greater iron requirement for vegetarians.3 This is of questionable validity, as the study was not looking at a typical Western vegetarian diet, but rather at a diet that was specifically designed to reduce the absorption of non-haem iron and was only marginally “vegetarian”, as it contained limited amounts of fruits and vegetables. One study group was given meals that were designed to maximally enhance non-haem iron absorption (meals included meat and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables). Another group was given meals designed to maximally inhibit non-haem iron absorption (meals excluded meat and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables but included foods and beverages high in inhibitors). The IOM committee based its recommended iron requirement for vegetarians on the latter group. This same study concluded that iron bioavailability issues (enhancers and inhibitors) are less important than has been traditionally thought over the long term.19

    Current (2006) RDIs for iron6 are shown in Box 4. The current RDI for non-vegetarian women aged 19–50 years (18 mg/day) is slightly higher than the previous (1991) RDI (16 mg/day).54 The current estimated average requirement (EAR) for iron for these women (ie, the daily nutrient level estimated to meet the requirements of half the healthy women in this group) of 8 mg/day, as compared with the RDI, reflects the very high variability in iron requirements among women because of significant differences in menstrual loss.6 For premenopausal women, blood loss through menstruation is the most significant factor affecting iron status, while dietary composition appears largely unrelated to iron status.55 A number of studies have reported an association between the length of menstrual periods and serum ferritin concentrations.56

    The higher RDIs for pregnant women (Box 4) ensure an adequate supply of iron to the fetus and developing infant. During pregnancy, iron absorption increases from 7% at 12 weeks to 36% at 24 weeks and 59% at 36 weeks.16 The UK Food Standards Agency has not set higher iron requirements for pregnant women, assuming that existing body iron stores (if adequate at conception) will provide what is required, given that menstruation has ceased and intestinal absorption has increased.53

    As iron absorption is substantially greater when the body has a need, as in the case of pregnancy, it seems reasonable to assume that the bioavailability of iron from vitamin C-enhanced vegetarian meals will be considerably greater when the long-term vegetarian has an increased need for iron (as shown by a low ferritin level). Thus it is pertinent to ask whether it is really necessary to recommend a higher iron requirement for vegetarians when adaptive processes respond to lower iron stores. Future research with long-term vegetarians eating more typical vegetarian meals over a period of time (rather than examining responses relating to a single meal) would be valuable in addressing this issue.

    There is a higher prevalence of iron deficiency in obese people, possibly due to inadequate iron intake or a higher blood volume. Chronic inflammation in obese people is associated with higher levels of hepcidin, which down-regulates intestinal iron absorption. Serum ferritin is not considered a good indicator of iron status in obese people, as serum ferritin levels are elevated by inflammation.5,57

    A sample meal plan appropriate for 19–50-year-old lacto-ovo-vegetarian women, who have the highest iron requirements of any group other than pregnant vegetarian women, is shown in Box 5. The sample meal plan also meets the requirements for other key nutrients (except vitamin D and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids). For more details on meeting nutrient reference values on a vegetarian diet, as well as other sample meal plans, see the article by Reid and colleagues.58


    Well planned vegetarian diets provide adequate amounts of non-haem iron if a wide variety of plant foods are regularly consumed. Research studies indicate that vegetarians are no more likely to have iron deficiency anaemia than non-vegetarians. Vegetarian diets are typically rich in vitamin C and other factors that facilitate non-haem iron absorption. The limited iron absorption studies conducted to date have not yet clarified how much iron Western vegetarians require daily. Research studies, which have been used to set official RDIs, have not taken into account long-term adaptive mechanisms, such as increased absorption and reduced excretion when iron stores are low, or during times of increased physiological need.

    1 Three levels of iron deficiency*

    There are three levels of iron deficiency commonly used to evaluate iron status:

    Depleted iron stores

    Depleted iron stores are indicated by a serum ferritin level
    of < 12–15 µg/L,† but no apparent limitation in iron supply. An increased total iron binding capacity (TIBC) indicates depletion
    of iron stores, but is a less precise measure than ferritin level.

    Early functional iron deficiency

    In early functional iron deficiency, iron supply to the bone marrow and other tissues is suboptimal, but there is no decrease in haemoglobin level and therefore no anaemia.

    Iron deficiency anaemia

    In iron deficiency anaemia, there is a measurable deficit in erythrocytes, the most accessible functional compartment.

    * Adapted from United States Institute of Medicine Panel on Micronutrients.3 † < 12 µg/L in US; < 15 µg/L in Australia.

    2 Iron content of commonly available plant and animal foods*


    Iron per 100 g

    Plant foods

    Iron-fortified breakfast cereals

    4.0–16.0 mg

    Pumpkin seeds/pepitas

    10.0 mg

    Iron-fortified bread

    7.1 mg

    Sundried tomatoes

    5.6 mg

    Sesame seeds/tahini paste

    5.2 mg

    Cashew nuts

    5.0 mg

    Mixed-grain bread roll

    4.7 mg

    English spinach, raw

    3.5 mg

    Dried apricots

    3.1 mg

    Tofu, firm

    2.9 mg

    Fortified malted chocolate beverage,
    with whole milk

    2.7 mg

    Dried dates

    2.6 mg

    Lentils/soybeans/kidney beans

    1.8–2.2 mg

    Amaranth, cooked

    2.1 mg

    Tofu, silken/soft

    1.8 mg

    Quinoa, cooked

    1.5 mg

    Figs, dried

    1.4 mg

    Baked beans

    1.0 mg

    Animal foods

    Liver, chicken/beef/veal

    6.0–11.0 mg

    Kangaroo, fillet, grilled

    4.1 mg

    Beef, round steak, grilled

    3.3 mg

    Lamb chop, grilled

    2.9 mg

    Beef, sirloin steak, grilled

    2.2 mg

    Beef, fillet, lean, grilled

    2.2 mg

    Egg, whole, boiled

    1.6 mg

    Salmon, Atlantic, grilled

    1.3 mg

    Pork fillets, trimmed

    1.0 mg

    Turkey breast, baked

    0.6 mg

    Chicken breast, baked

    0.5 mg

    Bream/flathead, grilled

    0.4 mg

    Cheese, cheddar

    0.2 mg

    Milk, whole

    0.04 mg

    * From Food Standards Australia New Zealand. NUTTAB 2010 online searchable database.11

    3 Plant sources of iron per common serve*


    per serve

    Amaranth grain, cooked, 1 cup

    5.2 mg

    Iron-fortified bread, 2 slices

    4.2 mg

    Lentils, dried peas or beans, cooked, 1 cup

    3.8 mg

    Iron-fortified breakfast cereals, average serve

    1.2–3.0 mg

    Tofu, firm, 1/2 cup (100 g)

    2.9 mg

    Quinoa, cooked, 1 cup

    2.8 mg

    Cashews, 25 nuts (50 g)

    2.6 mg

    Tempeh (fermented soybean), cooked, 100 g†

    2.2 mg

    Fortified yeast spread, 5 g

    1.8 mg

    Baked beans, 1/2 cup (140 g)

    1.8 mg

    Soybeans, 1/2 cup (90 g)

    1.8 mg

    Dried apricots, 10 halves (50 g)

    1.6 mg

    Rolled oats, cooked, 1 cup

    1.3 mg

    Fortified malted chocolate beverage, 1 tsp (5 g)

    1.3 mg

    Almonds, dry roasted, 20–25 nuts (30 g)

    1.1 mg

    Brown rice, 1 cup

    1.0 mg

    Wheatgerm, 1 tbsp (10 g)

    1.0 mg

    Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 cup (100 g)

    1.0 mg

    tbsp = tablespoon. tsp = teaspoon. * From Food Standards Australia New Zealand. AUSNUT 2007 online searchable database.12 † Source: product information.

    4 Estimated average requirement (EAR)* and recommended dietary intake (RDI)† of iron per day, by sex and age group6



    Pregnant women

    Lactating women

    Age (years)



    of RDI



    of RDI



    of RDI



    of RDI


    4 mg

    9 mg

    16.2 mg

    4 mg

    9 mg

    16.2 mg


    4 mg

    10 mg

    18 mg

    4 mg

    10 mg

    18 mg


    6 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg

    6 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg


    8 mg

    11 mg

    19.8 mg

    8 mg

    15 mg

    27 mg

    23 mg

    27 mg

    48.6 mg

    7 mg

    10 mg

    18 mg


    6 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg

    8 mg

    18 mg

    32.4 mg

    22 mg

    27 mg

    48.6 mg

    6.5 mg

    9 mg

    16 mg


    6 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg

    8 mg

    18 mg

    32.4 mg

    22 mg

    27 mg

    48.6 mg

    6.5 mg

    9 mg

    16 mg


    6 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg

    5 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg

    > 70

    6 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg

    5 mg

    8 mg

    14.4 mg

    * The EAR is a daily nutrient level estimated to meet the requirements of half the healthy individuals of a particular sex and life stage. † The RDI is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy individuals (97%–98%) of a particular sex and life stage.

    5 A sample meal plan designed to meet the iron requirements of a 19–50-year-old vegetarian woman, showing non-haem iron content of the foods*


    Iron content


    Bowl of cereal with fruit, and poached egg on toast

    2 fortified wholegrain wheat biscuits

    3.0 mg

    4 strawberries

    0.3 mg

    10 g chia seeds

    0.7 mg

    1/2 cup low-fat fortified soy milk

    0.7 mg

    1 slice multigrain toast and 1 teaspoon olive oil spread

    0.8 mg

    1 poached egg

    1.0 mg


    Nuts and dried fruit

    30 g cashews

    1.5 mg

    6 dried apricot halves

    0.7 mg


    Chickpea falafel wrap

    1 wholemeal pita flatbread

    2.0 mg

    1 chickpea falafel

    2.9 mg

    30 g hummus

    0.8 mg

    1/2 cup tabouli

    1.6 mg


    0.3 mg


    Banana and wheatgerm smoothie

    3/4 cup low-fat fortified soy milk

    1.0 mg

    1 teaspoon wheatgerm

    0.3 mg

    1 banana

    0.4 mg


    Stir-fry greens with tofu and rice

    100 g tofu

    7.9 mg

    2 spears asparagus, 1/3 cup bok choy and
    25 g snow peas

    1.3 mg

    12 g cashews

    0.6 mg

    1 cup cooked brown rice

    1.0 mg


    Fortified malted chocolate beverage

    1 cup low-fat fortified soy milk

    1.3 mg

    10 g fortified malted chocolate powder

    2.5 mg

    Total iron

    32.6 mg

    * Source: FoodWorks 2009 (incorporating Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s AUSNUT [Australian Food and Nutrient Database] 1999), Xyris Software, Brisbane, Qld. ◆

    Can You Be Vegan If You’re Anemic? This Is What Experts Say

    If you’ve been thinking about changing what you eat, you might be wondering if you can be vegan if you’re anemic. And with good reason. If you have a health concern, it only makes sense to consider how your diet will impact your symptoms, and to weigh the pros and cons.

    So first, let’s talk about why it might be a concern at all. “Anemia is a term for a lack of red blood cells in the body, which can lead to weakness […] and more health problems if it’s severe,” registered dietician Diana Gariglio-Clelland, tells Bustle. Other symptoms include fatigue, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, and cold hands and feet.

    While a doctor will have to determine the underlying cause, and treat you accordingly, anemia can certainly be affected by your diet, Gariglio-Clelland says, adding that “certain nutrients help build red blood cells, such as iron and vitamin B12.” These nutrients are found in everyday foods like eggs, red meat, chicken, and dairy, all of which are decidedly not vegan.

    If you cut them out, it’s easy to see why some “vegan diets can potentially be low in iron and B12,” she says. “However, it can be safe to go on a vegan diet while anemic if the proper precautions are taken.”


    If you’d like to stop eating animal products, even if you’re anemic, feel free to give it a try. “There are plenty of plant foods that contain adequate amounts of iron and folate,” Cristen Lindsay RD, CNSC, a registered dietitian nutritionist, tells Bustle. In order to get these important nutrients, along with the aforementioned vitamin B12, all you’ll need to do is pay attention to your meals, she says, as a way of ensuring you’re eating a well-balanced diet.

    “To avoid anemia on a vegan diet, it’s important to eat iron-rich foods such as legumes, dried fruit, iron-fortified grains, and dark green leafy vegetables,” Gariglio-Clelland says. While these don’t have to be the only foods you eat, they should be included in your diet. You can even increase the absorption of iron from plant sources, Lindsay says, by eating them along with foods that contain vitamin C, like citrus fruits.

    The nutrient you might have a tougher time getting on a vegan diet is vitamin B12. “B12 is harder to come by in vegan sources, but nutritional yeast is a great option as it’s rich in B12,” Gariglio-Clelland says. You can also ask your doctor about vitamin B12 supplements. They can help you figure out if you’re becoming deficient in this, and other nutrients, and offers ways to help you make up for it.

    “When in doubt, supplementing with iron and/or B12 (it’s important to know which kind of anemia [you have] in order to properly supplement) is a good way to ensure [you’re] getting the nutrients [you] need if [your] diet falls short,” Gariglio-Clelland says.


    It’ll also be help to avoid the common mistake of replacing animal products with processed foods, and calling it day. “Vegans can have problems if they have a diet high in processed vegan foods and low in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains,” Marta Ferraz Valles, a registered dietician who sees patients in Mercy’s Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease, tells Bustle. “Meat intake is not necessary to avoid anemia.” But having a balanced diet is.

    If you have anemia, start by finding out which kind it is, Ferraz Valles says, and why it’s happening. You’ll want to follow what your doctor recommends, in terms of treatment. But from there, you can certainly be a vegan, and feel good doing it, if you keep an eye on what you eat, and make sure you’re getting key nutrients like iron and vitamin B12.


    Diana Gariglio-Clelland, registered dietician

    Cristen Lindsay RD, CNSC, registered dietitian nutritionist

    Marta Ferraz Valles, registered dietician

    Iron for Vegans | What You Need to Know on a Vegan Diet

    Iron is an important nutrient for vegans to be aware of as iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies world-wide. While it’s possible to meet iron intake requirements on a vegan diet, careful planning and consideration is often necessary, especially for women who have higher iron requirements.

    1. What is Iron?
    2. What Does Iron Do in the Body?
    3. Daily Intake Requirement of Iron for Vegans
    4. Iron Deficiency
    5. How to Consume Enough Iron as a Vegan
    6. Vegan Food Sources of Iron
    7. Iron Supplements for Vegans

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    What Is Iron?

    Iron is an essential mineral that is required for many important functions in the body. Iron is critical to carry oxygen around the body as oxygen molecules will bind with the iron for transport.

    Iron deficiency is an extremely common nutrition problem for both vegans and non-vegans.

    What Does Iron Do in the Body?

    Iron has four main functions in the body: 1, 2, 3

    1. Oxygen transport: iron is needed to produce a molecule called hemoglobin which is a critical component of red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen around the body so all cells have the oxygen needed to function. Iron also transports oxygen in muscles via myoglobin molecules.
    2. Energy production: iron is needed to produce ATP (the body’s energy source).
    3. Immune system: iron is used by the immune system to destroy some types of bacteria.
    4. DNA synthesis: iron is needed for proper formation of DNA.

    If there are low levels of iron in the body, or an overt iron-deficiency, any of these functions could become impaired.

    Daily Intake Requirements of Iron for Vegans

    Health Canada recommends that plant-based eaters consume 1.8x more iron per day compared to people who consume a “mixed” diet of plant-based and animal-based foods 4. While there is debate over this recommendation, it’s the best we have until further research is conducted to examine the long-term effects of a vegan diet on iron absorption/ iron deficiency.

    The recommended dietary allowance for iron varies by age and gender. For women age 19-50 years (menstruating women) the recommendation is 18mg of iron per day 4. For men over the age of 19 years and women over 50 years (or after menopause), the recommendation is 8 mg per day 4.

    After taking into account that plant-based eaters need 1.8x more iron, vegetarian women age 19-50 need about 32 mg per day while vegetarian men need about 14 mg per day.

    Iron Deficiency

    Iron deficiency occurs in three stages: 123

    1. Iron stores become depleted: the body stores a small amount of iron. The first stage of deficiency is when these stores become depleted. There typically aren’t any signs or symptoms of low iron levels at this stage.
    2. Early functional deficiency: iron stores are now depleted and the body starts to function without iron, producing red blood cells that lack adequate amounts of hemoglobin molecules. Overt iron-deficiency anemia is not present, but some signs and symptoms such as low energy levels and difficulty concentrating may be present.
    3. Iron-deficiency anemia: this is the classic outcome of iron-deficiency. The body can no longer function properly due to low iron levels and red blood cells become small, pale, and don’t function properly.

    Many symptoms of low iron intake or iron-deficiency anemia are related to the first function of iron: oxygen transport.

    Fatigue, rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, rapid breathing (after little exertion), pale skin, brittle fingernails, loss of appetite, general feelings of weakness, hair loss, impaired immunity, and lack of concentration are some of the most common signs and symptoms of iron-deficiency 123.

    Spoon-shaped nails (where the edges curve upwards), irritation in the corners of the mouth, and inflammation of the tongue are some other signs to be aware of 123.

    If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, go see a doctor for assessment immediately.

    How to Consume Enough Iron as a Vegan

    There are certain factors that can inhibit or enhance the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. These are important for vegans to be aware of as they can impact the iron status of a vegan who is completely reliant on absorbing iron from plants.

    To optimize absorption of iron from plant-based foods:

    1. Consume adequate vitamin C with each meal (vegetables and fruits, especially citrus).
    2. Avoid coffee, tea and calcium supplements an hour before or after a meal.
    3. Consume enough lysine in your diet (primarily from legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans).
    4. Consider using a cast iron pan or iron fish (iron fish is a piece of cast iron that can be added to food as it cooks, releasing iron into the food).

    Vegan Food Sources of Iron

    Iron is found in higher quantities in whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds 1. Molasses is also a vegan food high in iron 1.

    Vegetables High in Iron

    Leafy green vegetables including spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, kale and broccoli tend to be vegetables that are higher in iron 1. These leafy greens are all excellent food sources of iron for vegans as they contain many other important nutrients.

    Dried figs, raisins, green peas (technically a legume), cooked tomatoes (like tomato sauce) and sweet potato are some other vegetables and fruits high in iron for vegans 1.

    Other Vegan Foods Sources of Iron

    Iron fortification into cereals and refined grain products (including pasta, white flour and white rice) is mandatory in Canada 5. Fortification of iron into plant-based and vegan meat substitutes is also mandatory so these can be a convenient food source of iron for vegans 5.

    Some plant-based milk alternatives may be fortified with iron as well. Check the label to see how much iron is present in these vegan foods.

    Iron Supplements for Vegans

    Routine iron supplementation for vegans is not generally recommended unless chronic low levels of iron are confirmed by blood test and/or the diet is low in iron. If you have a history of low iron levels, speak with your doctor or dietitian before making any dietary changes and before starting/ stopping any supplements.

    If a vegan has suboptimal levels of iron (early functional deficiency) iron supplementation or vitamin C supplementation may be required 3. Speak to your doctor or dietitian find a plan that works for you.

    If a vegan is diagnosed with iron deficiency, doctors often recommend iron supplements appropriate for the individual. Sometimes people prefer to correct nutrient deficiencies through food alone but it is always recommended to listen to your doctors recommendations. Do not start or stop taking supplements without speaking to your doctor first.

    Once iron levels are back within normal range, work with your doctor to find a plan that works for you to maintain these iron levels. Some doctors may believe meat or animal products are necessary to maintain iron levels, but to my knowledge, there’s no research to support this.  Meat may be a convenient source of easily absorbed iron, but it is not the only source, and a vegan diet with adequate intake of iron-rich foods along with vitamin C should be able to meet an individual’s needs 13. If you have low iron even with an adequate intake, speak with your doctor to see if there’s something else that might be inhibiting iron absorption.

    Summary: Iron for Vegans

    Iron is an essential nutrient for vegans to consider. Vegan diets can provide adequate levels of iron, however absorption is an important factor to consider. Health Canada currently recommends for plant-based eaters to consume 1.8x more iron compared to people eating a “mixed” diet.

    Eating foods high in iron with a source of vitamin C is the recommended way for vegans to meet iron intake requirements as this can significantly improve iron absorption from plant-based foods. Routine supplementation with iron for vegans is typically not needed unless you have difficulty maintaining healthy iron levels through food alone. Work with your doctor and a dietitian to find and eating pattern and/or supplement plan that works best for you.

    Join the Community for Vegan Recipes

    References cited:

    1. Iron Part 1—Basics
    2. Review on iron and its importance for human health
    3. Iron Part 2—Research
    4. Dietary Reference Intakes
    5. Foods to Which Vitamins, Mineral Nutrients and Amino Acids May or Must be Added
    6. The Regulation of Iron Absorption and Homeostasis

    Please note that this is a curated list of references for the topics above and is not intended to be comprehensive.

    Disclaimer: always speak with a doctor before changing your diet. Please read our full website disclaimer.

    Are You Getting Enough Iron?

    Q: Does a vegetarian diet give me the iron I need?

    A: Yes and no. Now, you are right to worry about getting enough iron. It’s an extremely important mineral that’s present in all cells and is essential for transporting oxygen through your body. But although it’s true that red meat is high in iron, the mineral is also available in a slew of plant foods. In fact, it’s so prevalent in vegetarian diets—from soybeans to enriched cereals—that many studies have documented that vegetarians actually get as much iron as meat eaters do.

    For instance, research published as far back as 1999 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no significant difference in the average daily iron intake of vegetarians versus omnivores. However, don’t relax quite yet. The amount of iron you eat is not the same as the amount of iron your body stores, and that’s the measurement that really matters. And despite a relatively high dietary iron intake, vegetarians tend to store low levels of it. Here’s why.

    First, the type of iron that’s found in grains and vegetables, called nonheme, is not absorbed by the body as well as heme, the iron found in meat. This means that even though vegetarians might be eating decent amounts of iron, their bodies can’t process it very well, so it takes more nonheme iron to maintain normal iron stores.

    Second, vegetarian food may actually work against you. Some components of vegetarian staples can actually hinder the absorption of nonheme iron. For example, a substance called phytate, found in whole grains and legumes, can limit iron absorption. Even soy, which is a good vegetarian source of iron, contains phytate and certain proteins that interfere with iron absorption. Other foods that obstruct iron absorption include coffee, tea (including some herbal teas), cocoa, calcium, fiber and some spices.

    Q: So how can I keep my iron levels up? And how much do I need, anyway?

    A: Never fear, vegetarians can maintain good iron stores. Certain vitamins and minerals are needed for your body to absorb iron. Vitamin C, in particular, is a potent enhancer of iron absorption if it’s eaten at the same time as iron-rich foods. Most vegetarians get plenty of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, cauliflower, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, potatoes, cabbage and citrus.

    Try mixing and matching these with the items in our chart. For example, top iron-fortified cereal with strawberries and soymilk. Toss a spinach salad with orange segments and sesame seeds. And try to eat lots of the foods that contain both iron and vitamin C: broccoli, swiss chard, potatoes. Other iron-essential nutrients include copper, manganese, vitamins A and D and the B-complex vitamins. In general, iron-enhancing and -inhibiting foods balance each other out in vegetarian meals.

    It also seems that your body adapts to varying dietary conditions over time, becoming more efficient at absorbing iron when you need more of it and absorbing less when supplies in your diet are abundant. Although iron-deficiency anemia is among the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, most people in the United States, Canada and other developed countries don’t suffer from it. Those who are at risk include children and adolescents (whose growing bodies require increased iron intake to maintain stores) and women in their childbearing years (who lose iron through menstruation). This is why recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of iron vary by age and gender. The RDA for premenopausal women is 15mg per day, while men and postmenopausal women should aim for 10mg per day. Premenopausal and pregnant women should consult their health care providers for advice about iron supplements. Men and postmenopausal women should avoid iron supplements since too much may carry its own risks.

    The bottom line for vegetarians: If you routinely eat a good variety of foods, there’s probably nothing to worry about. Just be mindful of the factors that affect iron absorption, and avoid a diet that’s high in iron-blocking foods and low in iron-embracing ones. Some iron-filled foods include whole grain and iron-enriched breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, seeds, dark green and leafy vegetables and some dried fruits.

    Iron-Rich Smoothie Bowl | Natural way to increase iron levels

    Plant-Based Recipes • Iron-Rich Smoothie Bowl

    This Iron-Rich Smoothie Bowl is full of plant-based ingredients and tastes amazing too! If you’re struggling to keep you iron levels up (and suck at takings pills— me too). This recipe is a great option and can be enjoyed daily.

    Iron-deficiency anemia can cause all sorts of problems including the most common complaint: fatigue. If you’re feeling rundown and can’t pinpoint another cause, it could certainly be attributed to anemia. When we have low blood iron levels our body’s red blood cells can’t bind oxygen properly.

    This could become serious if it progresses without treatment. It’s important to be getting regular checkups with a healthcare provider to make sure your iron levels are within the normal range. It’s common for women who are menstruating to have lower iron. Sometimes iron supplements are necessary, but if you can add iron-rich foods into your diet it can also help. The body does a pretty good job of absorbing the iron consumed as part of a healthy, varied diet.

    Two Types of Iron

    There are two types of iron: heme iron from animal sources (meat, poultry, eggs, fish, seafood), and non-heme from plants (see list below). We like to focus on plants here at SGS. A lot of the ingredients we blend up in our smoothies naturally include non-heme iron, but if you’re like us and need a bit more of an iron boost, then you’ll want to check out this Iron-Rich Smoothie Bowl recipe at the bottom of this blog post.

    Heme iron is more readily absorbed by the body, but can only come from consuming animal products. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, or don’t eat other animal products very often, you’ll want to make sure you eat plenty of the plant-based non-heme iron foods listed below.

    Symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia

    As I mentioned before, anemia usually starts by making you feel rundown or extra tired. Anemia also affects the skin (paleness), finger nails (brittleness), tongue (soreness and inflammation), and extremities (coldness in hands and feet). But it may also progress further and cause chest pain, heartbeat irregularities, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, unusual cravings (pica), and poor appetite. (source)

    It’s important to note that there are other types of anemia that affect the body in similar ways and have common symptoms. These forms of anemia are caused by deficiencies in vitamins B6 and B12, which is why a blood test is so important to distinguish between the different types of anemia as the treatments are not the same.

    Iron supplements are typically needed to help combat anemia, but changes to lifestyle and diet can also aid other treatments.

    Females aged 19-50 years need 18mg/day or iron. The number goes down to 8 mg/day from age 51 and older. Males require less; ages 19 and older need 8 mg/day. Children need much less. It goes without saying, but having too much iron is just as bad as having too little—so don’t go overboard.

    Plant-Based (Non-Heme) Iron Sources

    Getting plant-based iron into your diet is fairly easy. You can def blend this iron-rich smoothie or you can even try these other options. Chances are you’re already eating some of these foods:

    • Dried fruit – especially prunes and apricots, and raisins; the only drawback is that dried fruit is high in sugar and calories so moderation should be exercised. Add some to a trail mix or top salads or breakfast cereals and porridges with dried fruit for a little iron boost.
    • Molasses – a by-product of sugar processing, molasses is naturally high in iron. Taking a tablespoon by mouth daily has been the method of many moms. 😉
    • Herbs – spearmint, thyme, parsley; add these herbs fresh or dried to meals to increase iron
    • Seeds – especially sesame and pumpkin seeds; add to salads, porridges, smoothies, trail mixes, etc.
    • Quinoa – a pseudo-grain, and technically a seed, 4 ounces of quinoa contains 4 mg iron
    • Legumes – lentils, peas, and beans; also high in protein, beans and legumes are a great way to get plenty of plant-based iron into the diet, especially for vegans and vegetarians
    • Iron-enriched grains – enriched grains have long been used to help prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies
    • Spirulina – this blue-green algae is one of the very best sources of non-heme iron and protein ounce for ounce; use powdered spirulina and mix with water, juice, or in a smoothie, or consider taking a high-quality spirulina supplement; downside is that it tastes like pond water but 1 tablespoon of spirulina (or the equivalent supplement) contains 11% of the RDV
    • Dark chocolate and cacao powder – besides boosting your mood, dark chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and cacao/cocoa powder is high in iron; 1 tbsp. cacao contains 5% of the recommended daily value (RDV)
    • Spinach and other leafy greens – 1/2 cup cooked spinach contains 3.2mg of iron
    • Sea vegetables – kelp
    • Tofu and cooked soy beans (edamame)
    • Tomato paste
    • Maca – the roasted, dried, and ground root of a plant native to South America that is used for natural energy, but also contains a good amount of iron

    If you’re already drinking green smoothies, it’s easy to up the iron by adding a little extra of this and that. Every ingredient in our Iron-Rich Smoothie Bowl was chosen to be delicious as well as nutrient-dense. This is a great smoothie for women to drink during their menstrual cycle. Besides the boost of iron, this smoothie is also hydrating and energizing. And the most important part: it contains a high amount of vitamin C which aids the body’s absorption of iron, both heme and non-heme types.

    Looking to add not just more iron, yet also more clean protein to your smoothies? Check out my Protein Smoothie Boost. It’s made with just three protein-packed ingredients, which are all organic. A great addition to any smoothie or smoothie bowl!

    clockclock iconcutlerycutlery iconflagflag iconfolderfolder iconinstagraminstagram iconpinterestpinterest iconfacebookfacebook iconprintprint iconsquaressquares iconheartheart iconheart solidheart solid icon


    Boost your iron intake with this plant-based iron-rich green smoothie bowl.

    • 3 cups fresh spinach
    • 2 cups coconut water (unsweetened)
    • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
    • 1 cup strawberries (frozen)
    • 1 cup cherries (frozen)
    • 2 bananas
    • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
    • 2 teaspoons maca powder
    • 1 serving Protein Smoothie Boost (optional)

    1. Place spinach, coconut water, and pepitas into blender jar. Puree until smooth.
    2. Add remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth.
    • Category: Smoothie
    • Method: Blending
    • Cuisine: american

    Keywords: iron smoothie recipe

    Plant-based foods rich in iron – Botanical online

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    90,000 Vegetarianism and anemia – Ayurveda for everyone – LiveJournal

    When I once received information that meat is harmful (ho-ho, sounds like the slogan from the “Twelve Chairs”))), I decided to try to limit meat in my diet. That is, I did not rush headlong into vegetarianism, but simply stopped preparing it and eating it on purpose, but when I came across it (for example, at a party), I did not pick it out, say, from pilaf. It was an experiment: I decided that if the body wants meat, it will get it.And if not, why waste your family budget? )))

    The body did not want to. Moreover, a few months after abstinence, I noticed that when I began to come across meat and I did not pick it out, then immediately after eating and the next day my health worsened – the digestive system suffered. So over time, I completely abandoned meat, fish and eggs in their pure form. So far, I have the same intermediate stage with eggs as I once did with meat: I made the decision not to pick them out of the baking dough if I find them, but I don’t use them in my baked goods (by the way, I can’t eat them in pancakes) – I strongly feel the egg taste and it is unpleasant to me).

    The transition to vegetarian food went so smoothly and painlessly for me that for a long time I could not understand why some of my friends and husband could not do the same (having such a desire). Every time after the vegetarian period, their health worsens and the desire to eat meat becomes more acute, while it happened to me the other way around.

    Of course, this is influenced by many factors (including psychological), but after attending a lecture by a hematologist Nadezhda Koritskaya (link leads to the Ayurveda Club project, which develops and supports Nadezhda in St.Krasnoyarsk), devoted to the risk of anemia in vegetarians, a number of conjectures dawned on me.

    Indeed, the described symptoms of deterioration of well-being can be signs of iron deficiency. Many articles have been written about anemia, so I will not go into details, but I will highlight the main thing (from my point of view).

    1. Anemia can be the cause of iron deficiency from food: iron is actually absorbed better from meat than from vegetarian products.

    2.Iron from foods can get enough (this applies to any type of food, by the way), but it can not be absorbed by the body for various reasons. The reasons may vary.
    a. Many Chronic Inflammatory Bowel Diseases lead to changes in the intestinal mucosa that impair iron absorption.
    b. Another reason may be eating incompatible foods or unhealthy diet (when a person eats at the wrong time, not in accordance with the season and his constitution) – this leads to the accumulation of toxins in the intestines and the fire of digestion weakens, respectively, absorption of many substances, including iron, deteriorates.
    c. There are also foods that interfere with the absorption of iron : foods containing calcium, caffeine, theine (this is not a complete list). If you consume these foods at every meal, your body will deplete its iron stores within about six months.

    3. Iron can be supplied in sufficient quantity, in sufficient quantity to be absorbed, but in the absence of proteins, transporting iron from the gastrointestinal tract to the muscles and organs of the body, in the absence of proteins , iron deficiency can again occur.

    Which of these postulates follow the conclusions and recommendations for the prevention of iron deficiency anemia?

    For the first point. When refusing meat, it is imperative to adjust your diet so that the lack of meat is compensated by a significant amount of iron-containing foods:

    [ product list ]
    1. Greens and sprouts (spinach, lettuce, parsley, dill, legume sprouts, nettle juice , wormwood, celery, dandelion leaf, raspberry leaf).
    2. Fruits and dried fruits (apples, bananas, persimmons, dark grapes, pomegranates, black currants, plums, strawberries, raisins, figs, dates)
    3. Vegetables (beets – No. 1, carrots, zucchini, radishes, celery, tomatoes , broccoli, pumpkin, onion)
    4. Fruit and vegetable juices (pomegranate, cherry, carrot and beetroot, apple and beetroot, apple and carrot, juice from fresh tomatoes and apples, rosehip infusion)
    5. Nuts (almonds, walnuts )
    6. Spices (black sesame seeds, sesame oil, turmeric, chicory, fenugreek or shambhala)
    7.Legumes (lentils, soybeans)
    8. Any whole grains, especially buckwheat
    9. Sweets (honey, dark sugar from palm juice, molasses)
    10. Coarse bread, bran

    On the second point. Subparagraph a – chronic diseases must be cured. Subparagraph b – You need to eat correctly (the question of how exactly will be answered correctly by a large section of Ayurveda, you cannot tell in a nutshell here). And I will speak out about foods that interfere with the absorption of iron – subparagraph in .The habit of drinking tea after dinner (it is tea as a plant, herbal teas and teas with spices are not included here), coffee, as well as drinking milk or eating dairy products with food is harmful for a person with a tendency to anemia – iron will not be absorbed. Lunch and a glass of tea / coffee / milk must be separated by at least two hours. Iron with vitamin C is best absorbed, so drink your lunch with orange juice)))

    And on the third point. A vegetarian diet must contain a significant amount of protein, found mainly in nuts and legumes.A diet based on carrots and zucchini is not balanced, that is, it only brings harm to health, alas!

    I emphasize once again: these recommendations are suitable for the prevention of anemia and for the correction of a condition with a hemoglobin level of at least 90 g / l. If your hemoglobin is below these values, see your doctor, do not self-medicate!

    Eat right and be healthy!

    deficiencies and their correction / Blog / Clinic EXPERT

    Diet therapy for stenosis (stricture) of the intestine

    Some patients with Crohn’s disease may develop complications over time – narrowing of the intestinal lumen , called in the medical literature stricture or stenosis …In ulcerative colitis, in the case of cancer (adenocarcinoma) of the colon, the lumen of the intestinal tube may also be narrowed due to the tumor.

    Undoubtedly, the presence of narrowing of the lumen of the intestinal tube requires the restriction of foods and meals rich in dietary fiber. Such foods include apples, tomato peels, pepper peels, lettuce, cabbage, asparagus, spinach, beets, citrus fruits, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, grains, dried fruits, peels and seeds of fruits, mushrooms, cucumbers, watermelon.If, despite the stricture, the patient consumes excessively fibrous food, intestinal obstruction may develop. These complications can be prevented by avoiding fiber foods and eating pureed foods.

    In the case when the stenosis of the intestinal lumen is significant (often the lumen of the intestinal tube is only a few millimeters) at the stage of preparing the patient for a planned operation, it is possible to prescribe enteral mixtures in a volume that meets the daily needs of the body.

    Enteral mixtures are artificially created mixtures for therapeutic nutrition that provide the body with all the necessary nutrients. They can be dry or liquid (depending on the manufacturer and type), however, even dry mixtures require dilution with water. Thus, the mixture enters the patient’s body in liquid form, minimizing the risk of developing intestinal obstruction and at the same time having a high nutritional value.

    After surgery to remove a section of the intestine with a stricture, the diet gradually expands.Dietary recommendations are given taking into account the volume of the operation, the severity of the disease and the patient’s condition in the postoperative period.

    IBD and iron deficiency

    Iron deficiency occurs in 60-80% of patients with IBD, and iron deficiency anemia occurs on average in 16% of outpatients and 64% of inpatients. The causes of iron deficiency and the development of iron deficiency anemia in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are different: this is blood loss , and a decrease in the absorption of of this trace element in the small intestine due to an inflammatory process, as well as insufficient intake of with a restriction in diet and poor appetite.

    Healthy people assimilate approximately 5-10% of the iron contained in food, and in conditions of its deficiency – 10-20%. The absorption of iron from the intestines depends on the type of food: it is best absorbed from mammalian meat – 22%, from the liver – 12-16%, from fish – 9-11%, while 2-3% of iron is absorbed from eggs and beans , from fruits – 3-4%, from rice and spinach – 1%. Oxalic acid (spinach, sorrel, legumes), tannins (blueberries, quince), phosphates and phytins (found in cereals, legumes), strong tea and excess dietary fiber impair the absorption of iron.Proteins in eggs, soy, and milk also reduce the absorption of iron from the gut. Organic acids (malic, citric, ascorbic) improve iron absorption. It is optimal to combine in one dose of products containing heme iron (meat of animals, poultry, liver, kidneys), and products rich in organic acids (decoction of wild rose, black currant, clarified juices, lemons, etc.).

    Unfortunately, diet alone almost never succeeds in restoring iron stores in the body, so patients are additionally prescribed iron supplements.

    With low activity or remission of IBD, therapy for iron deficiency states and mild iron deficiency anemia is most often started with iron preparations for oral administration (tablets, capsules, dragees or liquid forms). Usually these drugs are prescribed at a dose of 100-200 mg of iron per day (in terms of elemental iron), since with an increase in the dose, the effectiveness does not increase, and the likelihood of side effects increases.

    The therapy with iron preparations is considered effective, which leads to an increase in hemoglobin level by 20 g / l or more within 4 weeks.After the normalization of the hemoglobin content, iron preparations should be taken until the tissue depot of iron stores is restored (controlled by determining the level of ferritin).

    In case of high disease activity, intolerance or ineffectiveness of oral iron preparations (an increase in hemoglobin, the use of parenteral forms of iron preparations (for intramuscular or intravenous administration) is recommended. a significant amount of iron (up to 500-1000 mg).

    IBD and calcium deficiency

    Calcium deficiency is common in patients with IBD. The reason for the deficiency may be impaired absorption of (against the background of inflammation and as a result of vitamin D deficiency), increased losses of and / or insufficient intake of calcium from food due to dietary restrictions or a decrease in appetite.

    Calcium deficiency is associated with a risk of bone fracture due to osteoporosis (i.e.i.e., a decrease in bone mineral density), which can even lead to disability. In patients with IBD, osteoporosis can be both a complication of the disease itself and an expected side effect when taking steroid hormones.

    Products containing calcium – milk and its derivatives (are the source of more than half of the amount of calcium consumed), cheeses, eggs, soy isolates, buckwheat and oat groats, fish and fish roe. The presence of a patient’s intolerance to milk and products based on it or their unjustified exclusion from the diet creates the prerequisites for calcium deficiency.This is especially significant during therapy with steroid hormones, which contribute to the loss of calcium in the urine. In these cases, the daily requirement for calcium increases to 1500-2000 mg per day.

    According to the Russian standards of physiological requirements for energy and nutrients for different population groups for healthy people is 1000 mg / day for men and women 18-60 years old, 1200 mg / day for people over 60 years old.

    In order for the body to receive calcium in the right amount, it may be necessary to prescribe calcium preparations (always in combination with vitamin D).These drugs should be taken by all patients with IBD who have been taking steroid hormones for more than 2 weeks. Calcium replacement therapy continues during the entire period of hormone treatment and is extended if necessary.

    IBD and vitamin D deficiency

    Vitamin D is synthesized by ultraviolet rays in the skin, and also enters the human body with food. It is the main link in the hormonal regulation of calcium and phosphorus metabolism, stimulating the absorption of phosphorus in the intestine, promoting the deposition of calcium salts in the bone matrix.Absorption of vitamin D occurs in the initial sections of the small intestine. Hypo- or vitamin D deficiency reduces calcium absorption with the development of secondary hyperparathyroidism, which leads to the leaching of calcium from the bones. As a result, adult patients develop osteomalacia, which is characterized by low bone mineralization and increases the risk of fractures. According to Russian standards, the daily requirement for vitamin D for a healthy person is 400 IU or 10 μg / day, i.e. 1 μg is equivalent to 40 IU of vitamin D.

    Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. In 50-70% of patients with IBD, there is a decrease in the level of this vitamin in the blood. According to the latest data, vitamin D deficiency is not only a consequence of prolonged active illness, but can in some cases precede the onset of IBD. So, in 2012, the results of long-term observations of 73 thousand women in the United States were published, with an assessment of the level of vitamin D in the blood. It was found that 90,069 women with a vitamin level of less than 20 ng / ml had a greater risk of developing Crohn’s disease in the next 20 years. High vitamin D levels (over 30 ng / ml) reduced the risk of developing ulcerative colitis.

    That is why there is a hypothesis that initially low vitamin D levels may be a predisposing factor for the occurrence of IBD in individuals with a genetic predisposition, due to the influence on various immune mechanisms.

    According to clinical studies, a low level of vitamin D in the blood is associated with:

    • a greater risk of surgery in patients with IBD
    • a higher frequency of infectious complications
    • a higher disease activity (especially Crohn’s disease).

    There are studies showing an increase in the risk of colon cancer in patients with IBD when the level of vitamin D decreases.

    How can vitamin D deficiency be detected? Clinically, i.e. based on symptoms, it is difficult enough, therefore it is recommended to assess the content of vitamin D in the blood (the level of 25-hydrocalciferol is investigated). It is advisable to conduct the study at the stage of diagnosis, before starting therapy with steroid hormones and then at least once a year.

    All patients with low vitamin D levels (less than 30 ng / ml) require deficiency correction. Replacement therapy is usually carried out by prescribing vitamin D3 in various forms (oil solution, tablets in combination with calcium supplements). Doses are determined by the attending physician and depend on the severity of the deficiency (ranging from 1000 to 4000 IU). When carrying out vitamin D replacement therapy, it is important to remember that its uncontrolled use in high doses can lead to the accumulation (cumulation) and development of hypervitaminosis D.

    The main food sources of vitamin D (IU / 100 g) are fish oil or cod liver (4000.0), sardines (1380), salmon (300), 1 egg yolk (100), butter (40). However, most of these products are poorly tolerated during the exacerbation and unstable remission of IBD, so their use in diet therapy is limited.

    Exposure to the sun (sun exposure) can also replenish vitamin D deficiency.

    – 5 minutes for fair skinned persons and at least 30 minutes for dark skinned persons.

    IBD, vitamin B12 and folic acid

    Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) and folic acid are water-soluble vitamins and are essential for the normal functioning of the body.

    Food sources of vitamin B12 are animal products – yeast, milk, meat, liver, kidneys, fish and egg yolk. Absorption of vitamin B12 occurs in the final (terminal) section of the ileum and requires the obligatory connection of the vitamin with the so-called internal Castle factor (an enzyme that is produced in the stomach and makes vitamin B12 assimilable).

    With inflammation of the terminal ileum (terminal ileitis) or with its removal (resection), vitamin B12 deficiency often occurs, which is manifested by anemia and neurological symptoms. During gastric resection (for example, in the case of complications of Crohn’s disease), vitamin B12 deficiency occurs due to a lack of intrinsic Castle factor. In the case of ulcerative colitis, vitamin B12 deficiency occurs more often due to reduced intake of foods rich in this vitamin. In the high-risk group, regardless of diagnosis, are vegetarians and vegans.

    Vitamin B12 deficiency leads to disruption of the formation of blood cells (erythrocytes, leukocytes, platelets), up to serious disorders of hematopoiesis (anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia). The second common group of disorders that occur with a lack of vitamin in the body is the pathology of the nervous system caused by a violation of the synthesis of the sheath of nerve fibers. Neurological disorders sometimes reach the degree of severe disorders and require intensive care.

    A large analysis of studies conducted in 2017 showed that in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the average level of vitamin B12 in the blood differs little from that of healthy individuals. The exception is previously operated patients with complications of Crohn’s disease. Those who had their terminal ileum removed suffered from vitamin B12 deficiency.

    To diagnose vitamin B12 deficiency in IBD, some laboratory markers are used: a clinical blood test, determination of the level of vitamin B12 in the blood, determination of the level of homocysteine ​​and methylmalonic acid in the blood.

    Treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency in IBD includes two approaches:

    1. In the case of resection of the stomach or terminal duodenum, prescribing parenteral forms of the vitamin (intravenous or intramuscular administration of cyanocobalamin). In rare cases, when Castle factor is deficient, large doses (1000-2000 mcg per day) of oral vitamin B12 may be effective.
    2. In patients with a removed (resected) ileum, lifelong maintenance therapy with cyanocobalamin is mandatory (the dose and frequency of administrations are determined by the attending physician) due to the gradual depletion of vitamin B12 reserves and the inability to absorb it from the intestine.In patients with a preserved ileum and no significant signs of B12 deficiency, the level of this vitamin in the body can be controlled with the help of oral preparations in the form of tablets.

    Folic acid is present in the following foods (μg / 100 g): yeast (550), beef liver (240), pork liver (225), soy (200), parsley (110), beans (90 ), spinach (80), lettuce (48), cottage cheese (40), porcini mushrooms (40), millet (40), horseradish (37), hard cheeses (10-45), etc.e. Absorption of folic acid occurs mainly in the jejunum and upper ileum.

    Folic acid deficiency (also known as folacin, vitamin B, B9) can also cause anemia in patients with IBD, often associated with iron and / or vitamin B12 deficiency. In Crohn’s disease of the small intestine in the exacerbation phase, the absorption of folic acid is sharply reduced and its pronounced insufficiency may occur. The use of sulfasalazine and / or methotrexate reduces the absorption of folic acid.

    The daily requirement for folic acid in a healthy person is 400 mcg; in case of folate deficiency, it is recommended to use a therapeutic dose of up to 1 mg / day.

    Iron-rich vegetarian foods

    With a lack of iron in the body, increased fatigue and weakness in the muscles appear, and attention becomes worse. A deficiency of this element can lead to the development of iron deficiency anemia, in which the level of hemoglobin in the blood is very low and oxygen is poorly delivered to the tissues.The daily rate of iron is from eight to twenty seven grams. The body is not able to synthesize it on its own, therefore, such an element must be “extracted” from food.

    The best source of iron is meat. It is easily absorbed from it. This process is a little more complicated when eating poultry, eggs and seafood. As for plant sources, iron is very poorly absorbed from them, but if you choose the right ingredients for vegetarian dishes, then you can easily get the necessary daily intake of a trace element from them.

    Advice! The absorption of iron goes much better if you consume vitamin C with it.To do this, you need to select foods that contain this trace element and vitamin, or supplement your diet with citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage, kiwi, pepper and other products that contain ascorbic acid.

    Foods rich in iron, suitable for vegetarian meals

    1. Spinach. This product contains both iron and vitamin C.In order to get all the necessary elements, spinach must be eaten fresh, without subjecting it to heat treatment, since vitamin C is destroyed at high temperatures. Most often, spinach is simply added to salads or delicious dressings for dishes are prepared from it.

    2. Broccoli. Broccoli contains not only iron, but also vitamin K, which is involved in the process of blood clotting and improves the absorption of such a trace element as calcium. In addition, broccoli cabbage contains magnesium, which helps the normal functioning of the nervous system, and, of course, Vitamin C is also there.Therefore, iron is absorbed from cabbage quite well.

    It is better to eat broccoli raw or baked. During heat treatment, Vitamin C is lost, so the finished dish should be slightly poured with freshly squeezed lemon juice. This will help not only to give an unusual and pleasant taste, but also to replenish the Vitamin C lost during heat treatment.

    3. Legumes. These include lentils, soybeans, beans, chickpeas. These foods are considered versatile because they are high in protein, carbohydrates, and iron.These products are best eaten baked or steamed. There is a huge number of legume dishes, so a vegetarian dish can be not only healthy, but also very varied.

    4. Cale. Nowadays, such “kale” cabbage is very popular. Its leaves are rich in iron. It is best to eat such cabbage raw, adding to various salads.

    5. Baked potatoes.
    Potatoes contain iron.But this does not apply to all varieties. To choose the necessary potatoes, you need to look at the Roskachestvo memo. It is baked potatoes that are considered the most useful for the body. You can make a huge number of delicious dishes from it, or simply supplement it with a light but healthy salad.

    6. Sesame. Sesame also contains iron. To obtain nutrients, you can simply add seeds to a dish, for example, sprinkle on a salad or add along with seasonings to meat or fish.

    7. Cashews. These nuts contain proteins and vegetable fats, as well as iron. Cashews are best eaten raw, as they will provide more benefits to the body.

    8. Dark chocolate. Such a product is not only healthy, but also delicious. You can use it as a dessert for about two to three slices a day.

    AlinaAuthor of the article

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    90,000 Myths about vegetarianism.Myth # 3: No meat – no iron – VegansBy

    Myth # 3: A likely consequence of switching to a vegetarian diet is iron deficiency anemia.

    Iron deficiency anemia

    Although nutritional deficiencies have long been considered curable in developed countries, iron deficiency remains one of those conditions that plague many people in a certain age group. Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, a weakened immune system, and loss of concentration.The “risk group” that is most often affected by this disease includes children, women of childbearing age, and the elderly. Iron deficiency anemia affects a small percentage of the population, but many researchers who have studied the nutritional status of vegetarians in North America and Western Europe have shown that long-term vegan diets are not at risk of iron deficiency anemia compared with the average for morbidity in the country.

    By limiting oneself to eating meat, a person often looks for a substitute in dairy products, pizza or macaroni and cheese, toast with cheese, creamy soup and cheese lasagna. Unfortunately, dairy products are not only an insufficient source of iron, but also impede the absorption of this substance by the body, therefore, it is better not to abuse them, but to replace meat with vegetable products that contain enough iron. In addition, you should understand what place iron occupies in food and in the body.

    Types of iron in the diet

    Having eliminated meat, fish and poultry from their diet, a person refuses products consisting of blood and muscle tissue. To make our own hemoglobin – a protein in blood cells that contains iron – we do not need blood products, since all the components necessary for the formation of healthy blood, including iron, protein, vitamin C and folic acid, are also present in plant food. Absorbed into the cells of our body, iron is used to produce hemoglobin in the blood, absorbing equally well – whether it is a source of broccoli or steak.The main difference between hamburger iron and veggie burger iron is its absorption rate.

    Heme-containing iron and non-heme-containing iron

    There are two types of iron in food – heme-containing and non-heme-containing. Forty percent of iron in meat and slightly less in fish and poultry is referred to as “heme” iron. It is found in animal flesh in the form of muscle myoglobin and blood hemoglobin. Usually, a person assimilates 15 to 35 percent of heme iron.The rest of the meat jelly, as well as all the iron found in plant foods and eggs, is called “non-heme iron.”

    Non-heme iron is absorbed differently from heme-containing iron. Everyone can get the most out of the iron in their food, as more than 85% of the iron in the common non-vegetarian diet in Western countries and all of the iron in the vegetarian diet is non-heme. The digestibility of non-heme iron varies from 2 to 20 percent, depending on the combination of foods consumed.The rest of the diet can have a serious impact on the increase (for example, foods rich in vitamin C) or decrease (black tea or dairy products) the level of absorption of non-heme iron. Accompanying products do not have such an effect on the assimilation of heme-containing iron.

    The role of iron in the body

    The most famous role of iron in the body is the saturation of the body’s cells with oxygen using hemoglobin. The iron found in muscle tissue helps to store oxygen for later use.Even a small amount of jelly is capable of performing the function of regulating cell metabolism and resisting infections. Despite the fact that the human body consumes less than 1.5 mg per day. iron, it must be replenished. Since not all of the iron in food is easily absorbed, the recommended intake for adults is 8 to 15 milligrams per day. Women need more iron than men, because every month, during menstruation, iron leaves the body along with the blood.During pregnancy, childbirth and lactation, as well as during growth and puberty, and during active sports, it is necessary to increase the intake of iron.

    The intestinal walls are very sensitive to how much iron is absorbed into the blood from food that has entered the stomach. The percentage of absorbed iron depends on a number of factors. For example, if the body’s iron reserves are close to depletion, its absorption through food can double.

    Laboratory Research and Nutritional Supplements The complete picture of iron in the human body is made clear through laboratory testing.As with protein, consuming too much iron is not necessarily beneficial to your health. There is a risk of developing certain diseases associated with excess iron intake and abuse of iron supplements. A small number of people with hereditary disorders have a problem with an excess of iron, which is caused by the excessive absorption of iron in the body. To determine the level of iron in the blood, it is recommended to pass a blood test, which will show the state of red blood cells (hematocrit and hemoglobin) and iron stores (ferritin, transferrin saturation and red cell protoporphin).

    In many cases, iron deficiency anemia is a consequence of an unbalanced diet, including inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C. Many nutrients are involved in the formation of healthy red blood cells and the most effective fight against this problem will be to replenish a diet of vegetables, fruits and other foods containing iron.

    Recommended intake of iron The recommended intake of iron from food for women before menopause (19 to 49 years) is Table 3.3. The iron content in various foods is 15 mg per day. The recommended level for other adults is 10 mg per day. These figures are based on the average daily iron requirement of a person with an additional safety factor.




    Weight, g


    iron, mg

    Legumes and legumes

    Tofu, hard

    1/2 cup


    2 *

    Tofu, regular

    1/2 cup

    1/2 cup

    Lentils, boiled

    1/2 cup


    Beans (beans, chick peas

    pinto, white, cowpea).


    1/2 cup


    Beans (aduki), boiled

    903 1/2 cup 9000


    1/2 cup


    Soy milk (see.label,

    where the iron content is indicated)

    1 cup


    Split peas

    904 903 903 904 9034

    Nuts and Seeds


    2 st.spoons


    Almond oil

    2 tbsp. spoons


    Cereals and cereals

    Wheat flakes

    (fortified), boiled

    3/4 cup


    Breakfast cereals,


    1 serving

    Quinoa, raw

    1/4 cup


    Wheat germ



    Whole wheat bread

    1 slice


    9000 1/2 cup



    Potatoes, unpeeled



    Peas, boiled

    9033 9033 9033 9033 903 903 903 9033 9033 1/21 9000 Broccoli or petiole cabbage,


    1/2 cup


    White cabbage, boiled

    1/2 cup 9000

    Tomato, whole




    Hijiki, dried

    1/4 cup


    Nori, dried

    1 sheet

    4 9000





    Dried apricots




    351 / 2 cups


    Other products


    1 st.spoon



    1 large


    Beef hamburger, lean

    58 g


    * 90 g of this product is 6% – 36% of the DP (dietary value of iron) …Read product labels carefully.

    Iron Intake and Vegetarian Status

    There have been many studies in developed countries to compare the iron intake of vegetarians with the diet of “omnivores” of the same age. Trials have shown that vegetarians, including vegans, have higher iron intake than non-vegetarians. In general, the proportion of vegetarians suffering from iron deficiency anemia did not exceed the average values.Vegetarians and vegans consume more fruits and vegetables, which increases the absorption of iron from plant foods. As with non-vegetarians, children and older women are at greatest risk of developing iron deficiency. Although non-heme iron is not as well absorbed by the body as heme, this factor is offset by a combination of high iron intake and optimal absorption by vegetarians.

    There are other iron-fortified cereals not listed in the table that can provide up to 4 mg of iron per serving.For teens and even adults, you can add special iron-enriched infant formula to hot porridge, pancakes or muffins. Meat substitutes, tofu sandwiches, and other similar foods are also rich in iron – you need to look at these chicks to find out the exact composition of such foods.

    Dietary Factors That Improve Iron Absorption


    Foods rich in Vitamin C can work wonders for the iron found in plants.With breakfast, you can significantly increase your body’s iron stores through highly digestible porridge or toast, especially if you add a large orange or a glass of juice to breakfast, which contains 75 to 100 mg of vitamin C. One study found that pa paya in combination with porridge, increases the absorption of iron by six times. Fruits and vegetables that are not rich in vitamin C also increase the absorption of non-heme iron, but to a lesser extent. These facts run counter to the conventional wisdom of “combining foods” that fruit should be separated from other foods.If there is a need to increase hemoglobin levels, more fruits or vegetables rich in vitamin C should be consumed with iron-rich foods. Raw fruits and vegetables provide the body with the maximum amount of vitamin C, although cooked foods (such as onions or tomatoes in soup) also do not. lose their beneficial properties.


    Another sure way to increase iron levels is to cook in a cast iron cookware. In one Brazilian infant study, iron absorption was increased sixfold or more using cast iron cookware.Cast iron cookware, like steel pots, increases the amount of bioavailable iron in food. This effect is especially noticeable when you cook foods with high acidity, such as tomato sauce or sweet and sour sauce.

    Dietary factors that hinder the absorption of iron

    Along with well-digestible foods, there are those that hinder the absorption of iron into the blood. In order to get the maximum amount of iron from plant foods, it is necessary to reduce the consumption of food that interferes with the absorption of iron.


    The main culprit is tea, the second most popular drink in the world after water. Both black tea and oriental green tea, which are the leaves of the same plant, contain tannin, which, when combined with iron, forms an insoluble mixture. One cup of tea halves the absorption of iron, but there is a tea that does not contain tannin – herbal tea. Coffee that contains the same ingredients is less effective.


    A glass of milk or a slice of cheese reduces iron absorption by 50%.If dairy products are consumed two hours before a meal or two hours after it, they will not have any effect on the absorption of iron.


    Spinach, despite its popularity and reputation as a wholesome food, is actually not the best source of iron at all.

    Even though cartoon characters convince children to eat spinach, the iron in it is bound by oxalates and slows down its absorption by the body. Oxapates are acids that are also found in rhubarb and sho colada.Broccoli, cabbage, and oriental vegetables such as bok choy provide the highest absorption of iron.


    Phytates are a specific form of phosphorus conservation in plant seeds associated with fiber in raw whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Physicians are wary of phytates in raw foods, especially wheat bran, because they can partially bind iron, zinc and calcium in food, resulting in poor absorption by the body.However, if you follow a specific preparation process – soaking food in water (as is the case with legumes and oats), adding yeast to the dough, or sprouting cereals and legumes – these phytates are destroyed by enzymes called phytases. Roasting nuts also lowers phytate levels. Thus, certain cooking methods can provide great flavor to food and increase its mineral content. SOY PRODUCTS:

    Soybeans are rich in iron, but contain two substances that block its absorption by the body: phytates and protein components.Traditional methods of preparing fermented soy products (tempeh, miso and soy sauce) and processing tofu significantly increase the absorption of iron by breaking down the blocking substances. Thus, soy foods are a beneficial source of dietary iron. If you consume vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin C at the same time as tofu or tempeh, the absorption of iron will increase.

    Iron Rules

    Getting enough iron from a plant-based diet is actually not difficult at all.

    1. You should eat iron-rich foods every day. Don’t waste calories on fast food (it’s high in fat, high in sugar, low in iron).
    2. You should help your body absorb iron. When eating, be sure to put vegetables or fruits rich in vitamin C on the table. Do not drink black tea or other tannin-containing drinks with food, do not eat raw wheat bran with foods containing iron. Eat yeast and sprouted, fried and fermented foods.


    There is always a lot of talk about proteins and iron, but little attention is paid to such a substance as zinc. Vegetarian or not, it shouldn’t be too difficult for you to put in a diet with enough protein and iron. As for zinc, consuming the recommended amount turns out to be a much more difficult task – both for “omnivorous” people and for vegetarians.Medicine still has not found an answer to many questions about the role of zinc in maintaining health, about the required amount of zinc in a person’s daily diet and about the correctness of recommendations in this regard. For these reasons, a few words should be said about the positive aspects of adequate zinc intake in a vegetarian diet.


    Zinc plays a central role in the metabolic process, and it is very important throughout life to ensure that a sufficient amount of this essential mineral is supplied to the body.Zinc is involved in more enzyme systems than all other minerals put together, and affects many of the fundamental life processes of the body. It is essential for the reproductive system, growth, puberty, wound healing, and the maintenance of the immune system. At the cellular level, zinc acts as a protector against the damaging effects of free radicals. Zinc also plays a role in the sense of taste; some residential people who have lost the ability to recognize the taste of food actually suffer from zinc deficiency.Babies and children who do not get enough zinc will grow more slowly and have poor appetite. Zinc deficiency, which occurs with insufficient food intake (with anorexia nervosa), can exacerbate the disease, in which the loss of appetite is no longer the result of a nervous breakdown, but a purely physiological disorder.

    Laboratory research

    At the moment there is no single, special and accurate method for determining the content of zinc in the body; therefore, doctors usually examine several separate tests.Determining the level of zinc in the body is an expensive process and is carried out only if necessary, as a result of which, the majority of the population does not have the slightest idea about the zinc content in their bodies.

    Recommended intake of zinc The recommended daily intake of zinc is 12 mg for women and 15 mg for men. These recommendations are based on the average requirement of the body, taking into account the safety factor, which in the case of zinc, plays a particularly important role, since different people, according to medical experts, the need for zinc is different.One of the reasons men need more zinc is because they lose approximately 0.6 mg of zinc during each ejaculation. Those who are vegetarian can be advised to supplement their diet with cashew nuts (100 g of these nuts contain 6 mg of zinc!).

    Zinc content in plant products Indicators of zinc content in various food products are shown in Table 3.4.

    Table 3.4. Zinc content in products


    0 st.spoons

    1 Slice


    Weight, g


    zinc, mg

    Legumes and products made from legumes

    Tofu, hard

    1/2 cup


    Tofu, normal

    9033 1/2 cup

    Baked beans

    1/2 cup



    1/2 cup

    1 83 9000

    83 9000 Ture , boiled,

    or humus

    1/2 cup



    1/2 cup


    1/2 cup

    9331 903 903 9034 Miso

    2 tbsp.spoons


    Various legumes (black

    beans, beans, lima, mung, pinto

    or split peas), boiled

    1/2 cup


    Peanut butter

    2 tbsp.spoons


    Nuts and seeds (dried) and oils thereof

    Pumpkin or linseed

    1/4 cup


    Tahini, uncooked

    9000 spoons


    Cashews or sunflower seeds

    1/4 cup




    1/4 cup


    9000 9000 36

    Almond oil

    2 tbsp. spoons



    1/4 cup



    Sprouted wheat

    2 tbsp.spoons



    1/4 cup



    Millet 9033

    Brown rice, boiled

    1/2 cup


    Oatmeal 9033 902

    1/2 cup

    Whole Wheat Bread

    1 Slice


    White Bread

    9033 9033 9033 1 Slice 9304 9000


    Peas, raw or boiled

    1/2 cup


    Potatoes, unpeeled







    Milk and dairy products


    1/2 cup


    Cheddar cheese

    1 slice

    9331 14000 products

    Nutritious yeast powder

    1 tbsp.spoon


    1 large


    Beef hamburger, lean



    Chicken, light meat, roast




    Vegetarian diets that provide adequate zinc intake are focused on hees, legumes, a variety of whole grains, and processed soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, and soy meat.In addition, zinc is found in eggs and dairy products. The way food is prepared is also very important, as it also affects the level of absorption of zinc, which can vary from 15% to 40%. To avoid zinc deficiency in the body, vegetarians need to eat a variety of foods high in zinc every day and choose cooking methods and food combinations that will increase its absorption.

    Substances that reduce the absorption of zinc

    FITATES AND WHEAT BRAN FOOD ADDITIVES: As discussed in the iron section, phytates associated with fiber in some cereals, legumes and nuts can reduce the absorption of minerals.A certain amount of dietary phytates can be beneficial for general health, but an excessively high ratio of phytates to zinc in the diet leads to a decrease in the absorption of the latter. This happens with regular consumption of unleavened bread, or with the addition of food additives based on wheat bran. There is no need to supplement a plant-based diet with raw wheat bran.


    In such combinations, a calcium-phytate-zinc complex is formed, in which zinc is tightly bound and inaccessible for assimilation by the body.To increase the absorption of zinc, avoid taking calcium supplements at the same time as foods rich in phytates and zinc, such as wheat bran and other grains, legumes, and nuts. For the same reason, it is not recommended to consume large amounts of calcium found in dairy products at the same time as foods rich in phytates, such as wheat bran.

    Processes that increase the absorption of zinc

    The degree of absorption of zinc directly depends on the methods of cooking.It is very beneficial to soak legumes before cooking, use yeast when baking bread, and germinate seeds. In addition, the absorption of zinc is increased if a person consumes acidic food or its ingredients at the same time as zinc-containing foods. For example, if you soak (or sprout) chickpeas before cooking and make humus out of them, enzymes break down phytates and release zinc, which is easily absorbed by the body. Lemon in humus also contributes to the absorption of zinc.Likewise, adding acidic foods such as onions or other vegetables to fried tofu can help increase the absorption of zinc. When yeast bread rises in the bakery or in your kitchen, the absorption of zinc increases with it. Roasted nuts contain far fewer phytates than raw nuts. Medical professionals are just beginning to grasp some of the cooking methods that Ve Getarians have been using for many years. Fortunately, for those with busy work schedules, there are more and more stores offering healthy foods that do not take long to prepare.

    Selected mineral supplements

    Do not rush to the pharmacy for zinc capsules. Zinc, iron, copper and calcium must interact harmoniously with each other, and an increased intake of one of these minerals can lead to problems with the absorption of the rest. Certain food supplements should not be taken without a healthcare practitioner recommendation. If you want to use tablets containing minerals, multivitamin-mineral complexes that are at the recommended level of minerals will bring you more benefits.It is necessary to check the composition of the food additive for the presence of zinc.

    Guidance on Increasing Zinc Intake

    To get the most zinc from your daily diet, some tips are: , miso, legumes, nuts and seeds. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can add eggs and dairy products to this list.

  • Try to use zinc as much as possible. Soak legumes, eat yeast bread, roast nuts, germinate seeds.
  • Do not supplement a diet based on whole grains and legumes with large amounts of wheat bran as this can interfere with normal mineral absorption.
  • Meat products can be safely removed from your diet, as a plant-based diet will help you get rid of excess saturated fat and cholesterol, and at the same time, provide the necessary amount of protein, iron and zinc.Usually, minerals and protein are found in plant foods in a less concentrated form than in animal products, but we do not need such concentrated sources of these substances.


    In addition to being a building material for teeth and bones, it also has many other important functions. Calcium helps maintain normal blood pressure levels and is involved in muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and blood clotting.As already mentioned, the amount of calcium contained in the body depends on the effect of protein. Eliminating animal protein from the diet halves the amount of calcium lost, so if animal protein is replaced with vegetable protein, the body needs less calcium.

    However, our daily diet should still include this nutrient. Calcium is found in high amounts in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy.The exception is spinach, in which there is a lot of calcium, but this substance is firmly retained by the vegetable, therefore, a minimum amount of calcium will enter the body from spinach.

    Beans are also very rich in calcium. This vegetarian bean dish for 1 person contains over 100 milligrams of calcium. In addition, chickpeas, white beans, tofu, and other legumes and products from them are a real storehouse of calcium. These foods also contain magnesium, which our bodies use along with calcium to build bones.

    Fortified foods are another source of calcium. Orange and apple juices, enriched with calcium, which is well absorbed by the body, contain it in large quantities – 300 milligrams or more of calcium in one glass. Soy milk, rice milk and other types of plant-based milk such as oats and even almonds are now also available to consumers. Calcium-fortified foods are labeled. Today, an increasing number of breakfast cereals are becoming a significant source of calcium.


    White beans (1 cup, boiled)

    9034 Cuts of cabbage

    0 1 cup each , baked)


    Brussels sprouts (1 cup, raw, boiled


    Black beans (1 cup


    Brown rice (1 cup, long grain, cooked)


    Broccoli (1 cup, minced, frozen, boiled)


    4 9032 3000 , average)


    Small “Turkish” peas (1 cup, boiled)


    Dates (10 dried)


    Cauliflower, 1 cup, cooked in pieces


    Pastries (non-nutritive)


    Figs (10 dried)




    Green Beans (1 cup, boiled)


    Cabbage (1 cup, boiled)

    903 9430 Lentils (1 cup, boiled)


    90 002 Lima beans (1 cup, boiled)


    Mustard leaves


    Orange juice, calcium fortified

    (501 g) 9000

    Oatmeal (2 sachets, instant)


    Orange (1 medium)


    Baked beans


    Potatoes (1 cup, boiled, mashed)


    Spinach (1 cup, boiled)


    1 1 cup , boiled)


    Raisins (2/3 cups)


    Pinto beans (1 cup, boiled)


    Peas (1 cup, frozen, boiled



    Literary source: D.AT Pennington, Nutritional Importance of Traditionally Used Portions, 17th ed. ed. (Philadelphia: D.B. Lippincott, 1998).

    On protein assimilation

    based on materials of the senior researcher of the Institute of Neurosurgery of the USSR Academy of Medical Sciences Shatalova G. (Shatalova G. S. Healing nutrition. – Yekaterinburg: Publishing house “LITUR”, 2004, 320 p.)

    The great physiologist I.M.Sechenov worked seriously on this problem and paid attention to the nitrogen content in arterial and venous blood.According to him, in the arterial blood, enriched with gases of the atmosphere, it is contained noticeably more than in the venous blood, which has passed through the tissues of the body. Hence, we can conclude that atmospheric gaseous nitrogen can be used to build the structures of the body not only by plants, but also by humans.

    I.M.Sechenov’s research was successfully continued by M.I.Volsky, who discovered two ways of converting gaseous nitrogen into proteins of the human body: firstly, with the help of bacteria located in the upper respiratory tract of a person, as well as in the large intestine, and , secondly, assimilation of nitrogen in the air both by living matter and by cells of a living organism, in particular by enzyme elements of the blood.According to M.I.Volsky’s calculations, if arterial blood contains 1.6% nitrogen per 100 volumes, and venous blood contains 1.34%, then it can be assumed that the human body can take 14.5 l, or 18 g, nitrogen. And this amount is enough to produce 112 g of protein in the body. By the way, Academician Guly also paid attention to the assimilation of atmospheric nitrogen by the body of animals.

    It is impossible to ignore the recent studies of American scientists E. Franzblau and K. Popp, who also showed that the body can capture nitrogen compounds useful for all living things directly from the atmosphere.They found that their main source is about 100 lightning strikes that strike the Earth every second. As a result of two years of research, scientists are convinced that lightning produces as many nitrogen compounds as other natural sources.

    Copper in food

    Average daily requirement These are the norms recommended by the German Society of Nutritionists (Deutsche Gesselschaft fur Ernahrung – DGE).

    Doses are recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) of the US Institute of Medicine and the Scientific Commitee on Food (SCF) of the European Union.

    Recommended daily intake of copper.

    Infants up to 3 months – 0.2 mg.

    Infants from 4 to 12 months – 0.3 mg

    Children from 1 to 3 years – 0.4 mg.

    Children from 4 to 6 years old – 0.6 mg.

    Children from 7 to 10 years old – 0.7 mg.

    Children from 11 to 14 years old – 0.8 mg.

    Adolescents from 15 to 18 years old – 1.0 mg.

    Youth over 19 years old and adults – 1.2 mg.

    Women during breastfeeding – 1.5 mg.

    Products Copper, mg / 100 g

    Cashew nut 3.7

    Rosehip 1.8

    Sunflower seed 1.7

    Hazelnut 1.3

    Brazil nut 1.3

    Flaxseed 1.2

    Soybeans 1.2

    Poppy seed 1

    For comparison

    Pork 0.087

    Chicken egg 0.065

    Copper is important for the assimilation of iron, takes part in nitrogen metabolism.Deficiency of copper in the body leads to a violation of the formation of the cardiovascular system, skeleton, collagen and elastin.

    Read also

    Myth # 1: no meat – no protein

    Myth # 2: vegetable protein does not meet the body’s needs

    Plant foods containing protein

    90,000 Benefits of Vegetarianism 9,0001

    Daniil Davydov

    medical journalist

    Author’s profile

    If a vegetarian eats a varied diet, and in the case of a complete rejection of animal protein, takes vitamin B12 in the form of a dietary supplement, such a diet is considered healthy.

    According to some reports, a plant-based diet has advantages over mixed types of food. But vegetarianism cannot be said to be overwhelmingly healthier than balanced diets that include moderate amounts of meat, such as the Mediterranean diet.

    What kind of diet can be considered vegetarian

    But not always. Some forms of vegetarianism are not so strict:

    1. Lacto-vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, as well as foods that contain them.However, you can eat dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt and butter.
    2. Ovo-vegetarian diets exclude meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products, but allow eggs.
    3. Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
    4. Pescatarian diets exclude meat and poultry, dairy products and eggs, but allow fish.
    5. Vegan diets exclude meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products, as well as foods containing these foods, such as canned food, baked goods, or salads.

    And some people also follow a Flexitarian diet. Like vegetarian, it is plant-based, but occasionally and in small quantities, you can eat any animal products. A variation of the Flexitarian diet is the macrobiotic diet. The main focus is on cereals and local farm products, but you can eat poultry or fish once or twice a week.


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    How vegetarianism affects health

    There is a lot of research on plant-based diets. But you need to keep in mind that it is very difficult to study the effect of any diet on health, and transferring the results to your life is even more difficult. Vegetarianism is no exception, and here’s why:

    1. Vegetarians have different meal plans. Some of them eat almost all foods, and some only plants. Therefore, it is better to believe studies where lacto-ovo vegetarians have been studied separately from vegans.If a study speaks of “vegetarians in general,” caution should be taken when accepting the results of such studies.
    2. People who adhere to any kind of diet, including those based on plants, more often than people with a regular diet, completely give up alcohol, smoking, move more and play sports. Therefore, it is better to believe studies that have sought to separate the health benefits associated with a healthy lifestyle from those associated with nutrition.

    In this article, we would like to share the highest quality research on vegetarianism published in reputable journals.

    Vegetarian diets reduce mortality from any cause. 90,070 This has shown a study of nearly 160,000 American Adventists – all of these people lead a similar lifestyle. Half of the Adventists in the study were vegetarian for religious reasons. This is very good for research: as a rule, believers are more strict in their diet.

    Health Effects of a Vegan Diet: A Study of American Adventists – Nutrients Magazine

    Approximately 6% of Adventists were semi-vegetarians, 10% were pescatarians, 28% were lacto-ovo vegetarians, 8% were vegans, and the remainder ate a mixed diet.

    Compared to non-vegetarians, vegetarians were 55% less likely to develop hypertension, 24-49% less type 2 diabetes, 8% less different types of cancer, and twice less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome. Their mortality from all causes was 10-20% lower. The researchers then divided lacto-ovo vegetarians and vegans and compared them to non-vegetarians.

    Comparison of different groups of vegetarians with non-vegetarians

    Lacto-ovo vegetarians

    Risk of hypertension

    55% lower

    Risk of type 2 diabetes

    38-61% lower

    Cancer risk


    Risk of death from all causes

    9% lower

    Risk of hypertension

    75% lower

    Risk of type 2 diabetes

    47-78% lower

    Cancer risk

    14% lower

    Risk of death from all causes

    14% lower

    Vegetarian diets improve cardiovascular health. This was shown by a cumulative analysis of several studies that studied the effect of vegetarianism on the health of the heart and blood vessels.

    Plant-Based Diets and Cardiovascular Health – Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine

    It has been found that a healthy plant-based diet, which emphasizes the use of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, tea, coffee and vegetable oils, reduces the concentration of low-density lipoproteins in the blood – which then form atherosclerotic plaques.Additionally, such a diet increases the concentration of high-density lipoproteins in the blood – they take away excess cholesterol from the vessels.

    And because it is low in saturated fat and high in fiber, it satiates faster. As a result, a person is less at risk of overeating, so they gain weight more slowly. As a result, vegetarians are spared the impact of another important risk factor for cardiovascular disease – overweight.

    It is possible that the rejection of animal food played a certain role in the improvement of the heart and blood vessels.Several previous studies have shown that consuming large amounts of hemoglobin-related iron, which is abundant in red meat, poultry, and seafood, increases the risk of heart disease. Also, meat products are cooked with a lot of salt – this increases blood pressure. The lower the pressure, the lower the load on the heart and blood vessels.

    In observational studies, doctors observed people who ate vegetarian diets and those who did not.In clinical trials, doctors compared patients with type 2 diabetes who became vegetarians and patients with the same diagnosis who ate regular diets adapted for people with the disease.

    It turned out that vegetarians have almost half the risk of developing diabetes than non-vegetarians. This is similar to the results obtained by American researchers who have studied Adventists. And patients with type 2 diabetes who became vegetarians had improved blood glucose and cholesterol tests – that is, their bodies coped better with fluctuations in blood sugar than non-vegetarians.

    Most likely, an important role was played by a decrease in the consumption of saturated fats and foods with a high glycemic index, an increased intake of dietary fiber and vegetable protein. As a result of a vegetarian diet, people with diabetes received more vitamins and minerals while gaining less weight. All this helps to effectively control type 2 diabetes.

    Which is healthier – vegetarian or balanced diets with meat

    Most nutritionists and nutritional researchers believe that it is not a complete or partial ban on animal food that makes a vegetarian diet beneficial, but other, more significant factors.

    Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Position: Vegetarian Diet PDF, 319 KB

    The most valuable thing in vegetarian diets is to reduce the intake of animal food components, which the average city dweller already receives in excess, and to increase the plant food components, which most of us lack.

    Models of Vegetarian Nutrition in Disease Prevention and Management – A Compilation of Case Studies PDF, 12 MB

    That is, the benefit is that vegetarians get less saturated fat, trans fats and animal protein, and more complex carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, dietary fiber, magnesium, folate, vitamins C and E.

    Diet Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025PDF 30.6 MB

    Research shows that in terms of health benefits, vegetarianism is not much different from the vegetable and low-fat DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet, which includes seafood and a small amount of wine in addition to vegetables and fruits.

    How to Eat Vegetarianism for Health Benefits

    Only a properly planned vegetarian diet is beneficial for health.If you give up meat, but continue to eat a lot of french fries, pasta, ice cream and sweets every day, there will be no benefit from such a diet.

    A good vegetarian diet should include:

    1. Plants of different types. Some of them, like green vegetables, are rich in calcium and iron. In lentils, these minerals are less, but a lot of zinc. Variety is what you need to get everything you need.
    2. A lot of protein. Plant protein is not digested as well as animal protein.Therefore, those who follow vegetarian diets should eat more protein than those who eat meat. The more beans and legumes on the table, the better.
    3. Sources of vitamin B12, which is not found in plants. This is especially important for pregnant vegetarians: in order to develop normally, the fetus needs a lot of this vitamin. For non-strict vegetarians, dairy, seafood, and fish are a source of vitamin B12. And it makes sense for vegans to consult a dietitian about taking vitamin B12 supplements.

    90,000 Gnawing iron

    What we sometimes mistake for seasonal depression can turn out to be iron deficiency anemia. In the spring, a rare person does not complain of fatigue. Sometimes it seems that it cannot be harder. But it turns out it can.

    If a person has anemia, he is constantly pursued by lethargy and weakness. And also – frequent headaches, “flies” before the eyes, dizziness and weakness. This happens because the blood vessels expand more than normal to compensate for the lack of oxygen.With advanced anemia, hair falls out, nails break, chest pains and heart palpitations appear. Another characteristic symptom is pallor of the skin and mucous membranes.

    However, symptoms alone are not enough to suspect iron deficiency anemia. It is necessary to confirm this diagnosis in the laboratory by passing a simple test for the level of serum iron in the blood. And so that he was without errors, it is better to take it in the morning on an empty stomach. The day before the study, you must give up fatty and fried foods, do not take alcohol.Do not smoke an hour before the analysis, but exclude any physical activity 10-15 minutes before taking blood.

    Head of the 2nd Department of Internal Medicine of the Belarusian State Medical University, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor Nikolai Soroka explains what should alert:

    – Anemia is a decrease in the number of red blood cells and / or hemoglobin in the blood. If there is not enough iron and a person has low hemoglobin, the blood cannot carry enough oxygen, and the body experiences oxygen starvation.

    True, anemia does not reveal itself immediately. In this state, women become overly excitable and irritable, their hair splits and falls out, and their nails become brittle. The skin of the face is pale. In the corners of the mouth, “seizures” appear, the mucous membrane of the tongue atrophies, and it itself becomes as if varnished. In this case, even the slightest physical effort causes them to have arrhythmias, excessive heartbeat, fainting or shortness of breath.

    Women often suffer from anemia due to blood loss on the so-called critical days.What is the problem, it would seem, to restore iron levels to their original normal levels through diet? But from products per day, our body assimilates only 2 mg of this trace element. And for 3-4 days of the cycle, it can lose 100-120 mg of iron in the blood. As a result, its deficit grows every month, and anemia may develop over the years.

    Other blood loss is possible: someone has bleeding gums, there are problems with the intestines, stomach – an ulcer, or gastritis with erosions, or minor bleeding that the person is not even aware of.Approximately 10% of the population, especially after 40 years, has a reduced level of hemoglobin.

    What do you think anemia and cold hands and feet have in common? With a low level of hemoglobin, little oxygen enters the vessels, so a person is often harassed by the cold, chilliness of the limbs. The taste may even change when you want something unusual – chalk, for example.

    There is also anemia caused by a deficiency of vitamin B12 and folic acid. And it occurs due to stomach problems, in particular, due to low acidity.Viral infections can also cause iron deficiency in the blood.

    But anemia can also develop after taking certain medications, for example, analgin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, when using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory ointments and gels, there is nothing to fear externally.

    Usually, in the spring and summer, many women, in pursuit of a wasp waist, go on a rigid diet, and sometimes go hungry, excluding protein foods from the diet. Meanwhile, against the background of such a deficiency, anemia can also develop

    The professor emphasizes that anemia has a connection not only with internal diseases, but also with external factors.In particular, with unhealthy diets and bad habits. Vegetarians, for example, should take into account that iron from plant foods is poorly absorbed, so a strict vegetarianism that excludes meat, fish, dairy products and eggs is fraught with chronic anemia.

    The best absorbed iron is found in meat, fish, and poultry. Normally, each person should consume at least 80-100 g of meat or fish daily, while a maximum of 2.5 mg of iron is absorbed from the diet. By the way, tuna can be an excellent source of hemoglobin for people with iron deficiency anemia and low hemoglobin levels.

    When treating anemia with iron supplements, they should not be combined with dairy products rich in calcium, which blocks the absorption of iron. In this case, taking medicine and food should be diluted – drink iron preparations a few hours after eating.

    It is clear that a deficiency of iron in the blood is bad, but so is its excess. People with hemoglobin 170-180 mg / l have a high tendency to thrombosis. Symptoms of anemia in this condition are similar to hepatitis: a person loses weight, he has yellowness of the skin, sclera, palate and tongue, itching, an enlarged liver, and heart rhythm disturbances.With an excess of hemoglobin, iron molecules are oxidized and damage tissues, provoking cancer of the intestines, liver, and lungs. Moreover, it is more difficult to eliminate this surplus than the deficit.

    Only doctors should treat anemia. They are aware of what drugs and under what condition they will need. Therefore, if you feel weak and weak, do not blame everything on the lack of vitamins in the spring, it is better to visit a doctor.

    Natalya Nevidomaya
    Soviet Belarus , May 5, 2017

    Sports with anemia

    Some types of sports activities imply serious health restrictions or contraindications.Does this apply to a disease such as anemia?

    Anemia and iron deficiency are among the most common blood disorders. The condition can be caused by various reasons. Is it possible to actively play sports with anemia?

    What can provoke the condition?

    Iron deficiency anemia can occur for the following reasons:

    • Long, very heavy menses;
    • inflammatory diseases of the genital organs;
    • disorders of the thyroid gland;
    • violation of the principles of proper nutrition;
    • malnutrition, poor nutrition, low protein diets;
    • internal injuries or diseases of the gastrointestinal tract;
    • strenuous workouts that require serious preparation and stamina;
    • the presence of open bleeding;
    • frequent use of anti-inflammatory drugs without prior medical prescription;
    • improper absorption of iron by the body.

    How is the disease expressed?

    You can understand that a person is sick with anemia by the following signs:

    1. The skin is pale, tanning poorly.
    2. Difficulty performing daily activities and activities that were previously easy.
    3. Depressed state, negative mood, tendency to depression.
    4. Decrease in activity, efficiency.
    5. Feeling unwell, usually accompanied by dizziness.
    6. Violation of the mucous membranes, the appearance of microcracks.
    7. Difficulty swallowing food.
    8. Dry skin, the appearance of early mimic wrinkles.
    9. Brittle, thinning nails.
    10. Dry hair, cut at the ends, the appearance of kinks along the entire length.
    11. Jams at the corners of the mouth.
    12. Feeling as if tongue was hot.
    13. Unusual taste and aroma preferences.

    Who is at risk?

    The following people are at risk:

    1. Donors who regularly donate blood (this is especially true for women).
    2. Women who often get pregnant.
    3. Girls with prolonged periods and heavy bleeding.
    4. Premature babies, as well as twins, triplets, etc.
    5. Adolescents in puberty.
    6. Athletes engaged in strenuous physical activity.
    7. Vegetarians and people who severely restrict meat products in their diet.
    8. Patients with internal bleeding that is very difficult to treat.
    9. Patients taking drugs of certain groups for a long time.
    10. People with low incomes who cannot afford to buy quality, healthy and natural food.
    11. People on questionable diets, knowingly starving or severely restricting their diet.

    Anemia and sports activities

    If a person is already sick with anemia, then he should choose light loads for himself that do not require special endurance. It is important to monitor your own condition during training, if you feel worse, give yourself time to rest.

    Professional athletes involved in heavy sports often have lower blood iron levels.They need to regularly monitor the readings of iron in the blood, as its deficiency can lead to sports fatigue. It is important to reduce the intensity of physical training in time if the level of iron began to fall rapidly.


    Thus, too intense sports activities can trigger iron deficiency. If a person is not yet involved in sports, but has such a diagnosis, then he will have to limit the load, engage exclusively in physiotherapy exercises.


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